An Open Letter to Nashville Vice Mayor Briley about the #JusticeforJocques Demands

Dear Vice Mayor Briley,

Many of us were in attendance at Tuesday night’s Metro Council meeting. We participated in the action in support of Black Lives Matter Nashville, Gideon’s Army, the #JusticeForJocques Coalition, and the family of Jocques Scott Clemmons. We appreciate your willingness to attend to the demands presented. We stand with the #JusticeForJocques coalition in demanding:

  1. Release the police report now.
  2. Fire officer Joshua Lippert.
  3. Make public the protocol for firing a police officer.
  4. Body cameras now.
  5. People-organized civilian review board with subpoena power.
  6. Stop the Metro Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) funded police task force occupation of Nashville’s public housing.

We are writing today to urge you to take these demands seriously, and not to question or belittle the efforts of the organizers. When you say that protesters were “hurting their cause,” it seems that you may not relate to what is at stake or understand why taking dramatic measures is necessary and urgent. For as long as there have been human beings fighting for their rights and living conditions, there have been leaders in positions of power criticizing those efforts as unnecessary, excessive, or incorrect. We urge you to consider which side of history you are on when you criticize protesters for the ways in which they demand dignity instead of criticizing the system that deprives them of that for which they are so determined to fight. As members of the Nashville community, these organizers are exercising their rights to free speech and free assembly. They are putting their safety and comfort on hold to speak out against police brutality, which is an issue that plagues our city and kills our citizens.

Our organization (Showing Up for Racial Justice) seeks to do anti-racism work in predominantly white communities. This means that we are mostly white folks, and we strive to identify and call out white supremacy at work. It does not mean that we, or any other white people, have the right or authority to set the agenda for resistance. We are not in a position to question the tactics of those who are being harmed.  It is not our role to accuse activists, organizers or citizens of color of “hurting their cause” because we are made uncomfortable by the vocalization of their oppression or because we have an impersonal analysis of how resistance should be done differently.

The recent Driving While Black report presents clear and significant data to show that people of color are stopped, harassed, and harmed by police in Nashville at a disproportionate rate. Plainly stated, being accused of racism is not the same thing as being a victim of racism. If you or others feel that the demands listed above are too demanding, this means that you are not experiencing police brutality in the same way as our community members of color. For a change, assume that the demands are worded as they are because that wording is necessary. Assume that organizers are disrupting as they do because they are fighting for their lives. We ask that you refrain from making disparaging remarks, and that you exercise humility before you judge the resistance of those who are being treated very differently than you. Empathy is hard work; please keep striving for it.

We will continue to demand justice. We hope that you will join us.

Sincerely,

SURJ Nashville

 

Justice For Jocques Full Demands:

  1. RELEASE THE POLICE REPORT NOW
  2. FIRE OFFICER JOSHUA LIPPERT
  3. Officer Lippert has proven with his disciplinary record that he is not fit to be a police officer. His decision making and use of force has violated the vow to protect and serve and in the end he shot and killed Jocques Clemmons. There should be ZERO tolerance for abusive police
  4. MAKE PUBLIC THE PROTOCOL FOR FIRING POLICE OFFICERS
  5. Officer Lippert has been disciplined 8 times in 5 years. At what point does MNPD say enough is enough and fire a police officer? We want specific and transparent answers about what the process is for firing a police officer for misconduct, abuse, etc.
  6. BODY CAMERAS NOW
  7. Mayor Megan Barry pledged support of body cameras during her mayoral election. Mayor Barry and Chief Anderson have publicly proposed to allot money for body cameras and yet we STILL have no cameras. In September 2016, despite pressure to move forward swiftly with body cameras, Mayor Barry’s administration instead contributed $1 MILLION towards ballistic armor for police. This administration has made it clear where their priorities lie. We want body cameras and we want them NOW.
  8. PEOPLE-ORGANIZED CIVILIAN REVIEW BOARD WITH SUBPOENA POWER
  9. MNPD has refused oversight by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and currently any investigation into MNPD killings or misconduct is carried out by MNPD themselves. We are demanding that a PEOPLE-ORGANIZED Civilian Review Board be implemented and supported by the government City of Metropolitan Nashville. We recognize the importance of having the people choose who will sit on the review board and reject mayoral and/or police appointed individuals sitting on the board to eliminate any bias and conflicts of interest.
  10. STOP THE METRO DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING AGENCY (MDHA) FUNDED POLICE TASK FORCE OCCUPATION OF NASHVILLE’S PUBLIC HOUSING
  11. MDHA has partnered with MNPD to increase police presence in public housing facilities such as Cayce Homes. These areas are already heavily policed and surveilled. When a housing agency opts to increase police presence and surveil its residents, it becomes an occupation. End the occupation at Cayce Homes. b. Stop the recent escalation of police presence, occupation, and search of Cayce Homes and all public housing residents. Since the killing of Jocques, police presence has increased in the very community that he was killed in, escalating tensions between community members and police. We need room for our folks to breathe.

PLEASE NOTE: The demands as stated here are general demands from diverse members of the black community, and not reflective of the specific demands of any one organization. These demands are an effort to center black communities most directly affected.

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