In our most recent post, we revealed the extent of MPD’s Authorization of Agency (AoA) program, inspired by Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission (MSCCC).
We did some preliminary analysis of the data and there are updated spreadsheets (CSV, ODS, XLSX). The update includes some address corrections and the addition of a business category field.
We saw the racial disparity in the initial AoA post. The profiling nature of the scheme, with seven times (84.9% vs 12.3%) the number of Black versus white victims of AoA is confirmed.
We broke down AoAs by the year the initial AoA was signed. 2018 is low because only half a year of data was collected. Years 211 through 2016 are incomplete because we asked in our FOIA for all AoAs between December 1st 216 and July 9th 2018. All precincts but one simply sent all their AoA data rather than selecting the data range we asked for. In addition, we noted many AoAs which were signed on a given date and had additional lines added over the same signature and date later. We have not quantified this factor as of yet but we think it will skew a couple of percent of the dates earlier.
We adjusted the yearly graph by doubling up the 2018 number to estimate a full year, and we added 15% to 2016 and earlier to account for the number of AoAs missing in our sample.
The graphs look similar. From small beginnings in 2011, the scheme grew to about 240 in 2014, then took a big jump to 665 in 2016 and plateaued out to around 600 each in 2017-2018.
We need to look for the impetus behind the 2014 and 2016 bumps. Most likely, some form of marketing or promotional assets were assigned to the program to cause these bumps. We’ll also submit another ORR to obtain the missing data.
We created a new field in the spreadsheet for business category and ran this report. The biggest category is apartment, which also includes mobile home parks, condos, retirement communities and townhouses.
The dominance of this sector may be the result of “Operation Safeway” which had a focus on apartment managers. The majority of these had a just a few AoAs, but complexes like Greenbrier with 48 AoAs and a dozen or so with double digits stand out. Clearly a number of apartment managements embraced the scheme enthusiastically.
The retail sector is largely a handful of AoAs in each store. All branches of chain stores are included. Three chains of dollar stores (Family Dollar, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree) had a total of 38 AoAs, which probably reflects the dollar stores’ well known skimping on security staff. Other chains with large numbers includes Walgreens with 24 and Kroger with 17. Otherwise, few retailers had more than three or four per location.
We think that, like with the apartment sector, that the heavy retail users had an internal policy to use AoA while the light users were probably recruited by police.
The food sector includes all vendors of prepared food and alcohol by the drink. The chains with most branches are the biggest offenders, and CiCi’s Pizza in Poplar Plaza’s 17 AoAs were associated with a well-publicized disturbance at the venue. We know that Operation Safeway targeted food establishments in certain areas, but we think that most of the rest may have been instigated by MPD, including the CiCi’s incident.
The hotel/motel sector includes hotels, motels and boarding houses, has a few stand-outs, probably related to prostitution. The manufacturing sector, though small, is dominated by Smith and Nephew who initiated 85 of the 100 AoAs. This is an anomaly which probably reflects a decision in management to use MPD as part of its security apparatus.
The gas sector looks very much like retail, and when you eliminate the effect of supplier chains like Shell or Exxon, not much stands out.
Public facilities include the downtown MATA terminus, with 24 AoAs and three at the Zoo. We talked about the Zoo political blacklist in the original AoA post. We dispute the legality of public entities barring members of the public.
Churches banned 37 people. It sounds unchristian to us to put people in the system. Even worse, schools had 35 AoAs, and we cannot envision a world where young people can be legally barred from education, or even where a school would involve the police in its disciplinary process.
We see some high-frequency users of AoA. These AoAs are probably due to business policy and may have been influenced by Operation Safeway in some way. The vast majority of AoAs have the potential of being instigated by police, including a handful where we know the case history.
We will follow up with additional analysis, including enriching the data and sampling some case histories to determine the marketing initiatives that shape the AoA usage curves.
We’ve been hearing about MPD’s Authorization of Agency (AoA) process. It surfaced in the media during the A-list controversy, where the actual blacklist was on form AA 0306, the Authorization of Agency form. We also wrote about a couple of Park Protectors who featured on AoAs at the Zoo.
What is Authorization of Agency (AoA)
Authorization of Agency is generally accepted term in real estate law, where it allows an agent to sign property documents in lieu of a principal.
Some police agencies have the concept of authorization of agency, the San Diego PD being an example. In the case of all police agencies we could find, the authorization of agency is a blanket measure against all trespassers, so it’s similar to posting your property.
MPD’s AoA is different. It specified the property, but also has one or more individuals who are barred from the property. This is unique to MPD’s version of AoA.
Normally, trespass does not occur, in the case of property that is not posted, until an accused person has been informed that she is trespassing, and is given time to leave the property.
The legal theory behind the AoA is that the persons listed has been informed that they will be trespassing without further notice if she enters the property again. It supposedly authorizes the police to act as an agent of the landlord in giving notice.
AoA is also promoted by Shelby Co. DA Amy Weirich as part of Operation Safeway. Anecdotally, we hear that it is used against the homeless, by apartment complexes and by businesses who seek to prevent “undesirables” on their premises. The data tends to confirm this.
Our Open Records Request.
We submitted an open records request for all AoAs filed since December 1st 2016, and received about 200 files containing over 1800 PDF forms, many of them older than December 2016. Most precincts sent all their AoAs. We think we have over 90% of AoAs.
As can be seen from the chart, there were 1697 unique AoAs in the data, and race was identified in all but 75. 84.9% of listed persons were Black and 12.3% white, with a couple of percent Latinx and a few Asians. African Americans are over-represented by a factor of 350% compared with the demographics. There are seven times the number of Black people over whites.
The original map can be seen on Google Docs.
Click the “Map” tab to view the interactive map, and the “Rows” tab shows the data, with the source field clickable to go to the source PDF.
The collated data table is available on Google Docs, as a comma-separated CSV file, Excel XLSX and OpenOffice ODS files. These files also contain the name of the barred person, a clickable link to the source .PDF and the page number to search within this PDF. (Updated 9/11/2017: updated spreadsheet with corrections and added business category field; CSVXLSXODS.)
The map shows a large concentration stretching through downtown, Midtown, Orange Mound, Parkway Village and Hickory hill, with some outliers in Raleigh and Frayser. Most of these places are where the races mingle as in downtown and midtown, or in transitional areas where demographics are changing. But the vast majority of AoA listees are African American.
How AoA is supposed to work.
The forms are filled in by hand by the property manager and are to be witnessed by a police officer. They are maintained in the original form via scanning to .pdf. They are apparently kept in hard copy folders by ward which are carried in police cars. Many of the forms have a three digit ward number written near the top of the form. The data are accessed by manually searching through the forms in the book.
As manual, hand-written forms, there are no controls on handwriting, spelling or general accuracy. Many entries are hard to read, either because the original script is undecipherable or because the documents have been scanned, faxed or copied many times.
Many of the forms have additional data, such as sex, weight, height, and marginal notes with drivers license numbers or scanned licenses, phone numbers, addresses, behavioral notes, details of alleged offenses, car tags or descriptions. DL numbers, Social Security numbers and photos are redacted. Access the original documents to see additional data.
Although some property managers keep the forms on hand and initiate the application, the suggestion to file often comes from a police officer.
Problems with AoA administration.
The forms state that the complainant has notified the subject that they are not permitted on the property, but we have many instances where the subjects were not duly notified, and there is no checking or control on
Fergus Nolan and Maureen Spain are on an AoA at the Zoo from 31/5/2016 but were not notified, see example.
Hunter Demster was placed on an AoA on 9/28/2017 and not notified.
Up to 12 protesters at the Mayor’s house die-in from 12/19/2016 were placed on an AoA, and an additional 40+ people who were not at the die-in were also placed on the “A-list” AoA, but only Keedran Franklin was notified, and not by Mayor Strickland, the complainant, but by MPD plainclothes police.
Lack of notification of being on an AoA can expose the subject to arbitrary arrest for trespassing while unknowingly being listed on the property.
The “protection” afforded a property owner by AoA is similar to an order of protection, in that it prevents an subject from approaching a complainant while on her property, but AoA does not embody the same opportunity to legally challenge the listing. AoA may be viewed as an attempt to bypass the safeguards embodied in the Order of Protection process.
The AoA process is not documented in MPD’s P&P manual, and has no maintenance or purge process. Conditions attached to the AoA listing, such as limited duration of the listing, cannot be enforced. We have examples of AoAs which were supposed to have limited one-year duration still being on file after many years. The AoA my still be in effect after the property is transferred to another owner.
The forms are supposed to be signed by the complainant and witnessed by an MPD member. We found numerous instances of missing signatures of both types, and signatures that were “witnessed” on a different date to the original signature.
We also found numerous instances where a duly signed and witnessed AOA form had additional names added over the original signature, which is a falsification of official records, as the purported signature and witness do not apply to the subsequent changes. We have instances where both the original form and the updated version are on file, and also instances where later names were added in a different hand to the original list. Forms should have unused subject lines crossed out to prevent subsequent additions.
From personal experience, this example illustrates several of the problems with AoAs. On 5/31/2016, the day after their arrest at a Greensward protest, this AoA (PDF, see page 7) was created for Maureen Spain and Fergus Nolan, without notification. Their drivers license numbers were provided to the Zoo by MPD for this purpose, in violation of open records laws, which requires DL numbers to be redacted before sharing with members of the public.
Fergus Nolan unknowingly visited the Zoo on at least three different occasions in 2017. On one of these visits, he was with Hunter Demster, when both were asked to leave. Subsequently, on the 28th, an AoA was created for Hunter Demster, who was not notified.
During the incident described in our February blog, the police were seen working on some papers. Once again, for at least the fourth time, they failed to find the existing AoA for Fergus. The police added him into the existing AoA for Hunter. The two versions are shown above, where the second line was added in a different hand.
This illustrates what we think are common problems with AoAs. They are frequently altered to add more names, making the witness signature fraudulent. Subjects are often not informed of their inclusion on an AoA, making them subject to arrest if they re-enter the listed property unawares. The system is ineffective. Fergus Nolan’s 5/31/2016 AoA was not found on four separate occasions. In addition, the police often add confidential information to the AoA including driver’s license, social security number and photos, which are required to be redacted before sharing with members of the public, and the complainant gets to see this information.
I’m not a lawyer. AoA form AA 0705 is another version of the form, and some are present in our document cache. It cites TCA 39-3-1201, which was repealed, as the authorizing statute. These AoA forms are still active.
TCA 39-14-405 is the successor statute to the repealed trespass measure and it does not mention AoA or describe its mechanism. We have consulted attorneys who believe that the process is not legal, but there has not been a legal challenge to date.
Due Process Issues.
As there is no formal record keeping system for AoAs, and as there are no regulations in the P&P manual, the records are chaotic.
There is no judicial oversight, means of correcting, changing data, purging outdated records, or appeal process.
We saw AoAs as old as 2011, and children as young as eleven listed, with no mechanism for parental involvement.
We saw one situation where the same policeman hawked the same AoA against and individual to four different businesses in an area, suggesting that individual police have a lot of latitude in applying this sanction.
The quality of the system, in terms of data accuracy, legibility, efficient access and data maintenance procedures is rock bottom.
We are aware of several AoAs which have been removed fro the database. These include the original AoA signed in January 2017 for the December 19th die-in, which formed the basis of the A-list. Also missing is a December 31st for Malco theater which had the names of Keedran Franklin and other CCC members who gave out free theater tickets. The deletions we know about occurred after political pressure was applied.
AoA is racist in implementation, has no legal basis, has no checks and balances, is unwieldy, capricious and ineffective, violates due process and has been used as a weapon by MPD officers against the weakest members of our community.
It is questionable if a police force can act as the agent of property owners, in violation of the State trespass law, without compromising their oath to uphold the law.
In this Smart City Memphis article, “with the Memphis zoo parking design now revealed, the final decision is headed inevitably to Mayor Strickland’s desk after a week of public comment. That’s where the buck stops. There will undoubtedly be intense lobbying of the mayor by both sides. It is hard to see how the design, which seems senselessly to consume more than two acres of parkland at Overton Park, will not light the fuse for another round of vigorous opposition.”
First we had the City’s A-list, the blacklist of individuals requiring escorts at City Hall. Now we have the Zoo’s blacklist, the Z-list. This list has Hunter Demster and myself on it. It has another thing in common with the A-list – a mysterious MPD construct, the “Authorization of Agency” form.
Hunter called me on Tuesday February 21st and told me that the Zoo had posted photos of both of us at their security checkpoints. So we saddled up and arrived at the Zoo a little after 4 PM . We photographed our Zoo mugshots through the glass of the unattended parking shack.
When we got to the Zoo entrance, we engaged the Zoo attendants and asked them why our photos were posted, and they said that we were banned from the Zoo and we had to leave. They said they’d called the police and we should leave to avoid arrest.
Zoo employee calling MPD at Plaza entrance
Zoo employee at Plaza entrance.
While we were walking back across the parking lot, a police cruiser pulled up in front of Zoo plaza, and Officer Dan Adams dismounted. He called us, and we turned around and went back to the south-western end of Zoo Plaza.
Officer Adams was combative right off the bat. He said that MPD had an Authorization of Agency on us and we had to leave. We asked why we were being asked to leave public City property and mentioned that we had committed no crimes.
At that point, a second cruiser pulled up with an unidentified female officer. We asked for a supervisor because her colleague was raising his voice. She led Officer Adams a small distance away to the lion statue and they conferred briefly.
The officers came back over and informed Hunter and I that we were being detained. Hunter was cuffed behind his back by Officer Adams, led to Adams’ cruiser, parked in front of the Plaza and locked in the back.
The female officer locked me in her cruiser, uncuffed, but took away my phone and camera.
Here’s the video Hunter took of this interaction, from the first appearance of Officer Adams to where we were informed we were being detained.
At this point, the narrative continues from the back of Adams’ police car where Hunter managed to get his camera going and broadcast live. This video was featured in the Commercial Appeal article.
During the twenty minutes or so we were in the cruisers, the two original cops were seen in the video working on an Authorization of Agency form, which the Zoo and those police officers had said that they already had filed. An MPD supervisor arrived after a while, talked to the officers but did not address us.
Eventually, the two cops released Hunter and me, and waved a folded piece of paper at us, which they said was an Authorization of Agency. They said we’d be arrested if we again entered Zoo property. They would not show us what was on the paper.
I am not a lawyer. Tennessee trespass law is governed by § 39-14-405. This requires a subject to be advised that she is trespassing, and be given an opportunity to leave, before trespassing can be alleged. There’s also a provision for property owners (or “employers”) to pay a fee to the Secretary of State to have their property listed on the No Trespass Public Notice List.
Besides the Z-list, we saw Authorization of Agency (AOA) used in the A-list (PDF). The list is printed on MPD form AA0306, their Authorization of Agency form. The form is entitled “Listing of Persons Barred from Premises”. In theory, the named property owner has previously notified the named individuals that they are banned from the named property. The A-list AOA was written for Mayor Strickland’s home address, and contains 57 activists’ names, Other individuals who were already on the City Hall exclusion list were added to the A-list, without being on an AOA form. There were some individuals listed twice on the A-list.
Lieut. Albert Bonner, MPD head of City Hall security at the time, had extracted the 57 names from active MPD political intelligence files, had the Mayor sign the order, and added a note in the corner of each page saying the named individuals were required to have an escort in City Hall. The rest is history. The ALCU court case is ongoing.
Another prominent misuse of the AOA is Amy Weirich’s (Shelby Co. DA) “Operation Safeway” , which has been used to harass homeless individuals and for fishing expeditions.
We can’t find any law locally that modifies the State law, or any regulation in the MPD Policy and Procedures manual relating to the Authorization of Agency. Several cities in California, Virginia, Alabama and Oregon have a similar letter, but it does not designate individuals and is like the Tennessee law, in that the property must be posted.
Authorization of agency, as a legal term, is usually a form of power of attorney authorizing a representative to act in relation to specific transactions.
We have concerns as to the legality of the AOA, its use to implement a political blacklist by a quasi-Governmental City contractor, and the absence of due process around the device. This may well be a civil rights matter, especially in view of its repeated use as a blacklist.
Hunter and my previous Zoo visit.
The SmartMemphis article is unclear about why we were banned by the Zoo. The answer may lie in our previous visit to the Zoo. After reports that chainsaws had been heard somewhere north of the 17 Acres, Hunter and I decided to visit the Zoo during Free 3-hour Tuesday on 26th September 2017.
We entered the Zoo without incident and walked eastwards towards the Reticulated Giraffe enclosure on the eastbound tram route. Along the way we noticed that two Zoo employees were following us. We checked out construction of an ice rink that was in progress east of the giraffe house, and then turned back towards the Zoo entrance.
Zoo security on Sept 26th
Zoo security guy
Along the way, we turned south towards the 17 acres, in an unfenced and unposted area used for Zoo employee parking. The two Zoo employees shouted at us from a 50 yard distance to leave the area. We immediately headed north back on the main drag and resumed heading for the exit, pausing from time to time to view exhibits.
When we got near the Hippo Camp, we were approached by an MPD officer in motorcycle gear. He asked us to leave, and the policeman walked Hunter to the main gate, while the Zoo employees walked behind me. When we got to the main gate, Hunter inquired why we were being asked to leave. The cop said that the Zoo wanted us gone and we’d be arrested if we didn’t, so we left. There was no violence or even raised voices, we never entered any fenced or posted area, and we left when asked.
I also visited the Zoo in June and took photographs without incident, and also took photographs in the Zoo parking lot and from a drone at various times in 2017.
“Save the Greensward” is planning an event, “Free Tuesday at the Memphis Zoo”, on Tuesday Feb. 27th. Park protectors intend to line up in an orderly manner for admission to the Zoo. Hunter and I plan to attend.
The Zoo Parking Plan, a highly defective document, goes to the Mayor for contract approval on Wednesday.