Rap Group Organizers to File 'Excessive Force' MPD Complaint

Rap Group Organizers to File 'Excessive Force' MPD Complaint

Organizers of a sidewalk rap party on South Main say they plan to file a complaint with Memphis Police on Tuesday alleging they were the victims of excessive force by officers trying to break it-up.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) -- Organizers of a sidewalk rap party on South Main say they plan to file a complaint with Memphis Police on Tuesday alleging they were the victims of excessive force by officers trying to break it up.

"The whole thing was really meant to be really positive, and it was up until the police showed up," said Crystal Foss. 

According to Foss, a crowd of around 40 people were outside a store on South Main as part of the event, which was tied in to Trolley Night activities on South Main. Foss said officers originally had no problem with the music, but then ordered the DJ to turn off the music.

Foss said she was surprised when the tension seemed to elevate as officers pulled out their batons and started swinging them.

"I grabbed my camera turned it on, and started taking photos as soon as I could," said Foss, who is studying photography. "Honestly the crowd was not being aggressive whatsoever, so there was really nothing that we could have done."

One man, the son of Memphis Municipal Court Judge Tarik Sugarmon was hit with pepper spray in the face. Police say Niles Sugarmon grabbed an officer above his duty belt, but friends say Sugarmon slipped in all the commotion.

"For you to pull out pepper spray and unarmed people and they are not fighting with you? It's more than excess," said Nick Hicks, one of the organizers of Friday night's event. 

"This situation shocked everybody because everybody saw it as a positive event and for it to go down like it went down, I think it too everybody by surprise," he added. "Seeing that thing manifest our eyes, was just like crazy."

Jeffrey Lichtenstein was also arrested after police say he refused to leave the sidewalk despite being told a number of times. Friends say he was recording officers, and handed off his phone to someone right before he was arrested. Surveillance video shows a police officer grabbing the phone. 

A Memphis Police spokeswoman said Monday night that MPD wasn't investigating because no one had filed a formal complaint.

Organizers of Friday night's event said they planned to file that complaint on Tuesday.
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