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Black Clergy Collaborative of Memphis working to aid victims of police brutality after Tyre Nichols death

Faith leaders want to provide people with a safe place to tell their stories and demonstrate the need for police reform

MEMPHIS, Tenn — The Black Clergy Collaborative of Memphis is working to help victims of police brutality have their voices heard, hoping to find them justice and repair the system they say has failed them.

"We have people in our communities and our congregations and throughout the city and county who have experienced similar things to Tyre Nichols, but because of the grace of God, they did not die," said Rev. Dr. Earle Fisher, Senior Pastor at Abyssinian Baptist Church and BCCM Director. 

Dr. Fisher says BCCM’s goal is to build a record or database showing how many people across Shelby County have experienced wrongdoing at the hands of law enforcement. 

After announcing the initiative on February 12th, Dr. Fisher says that people have been contacting them at a slow but steady pace, which he says is to be expected. The pastor says that for some, sharing these traumatizing or victimizing encounters can be like opening an old wound.

"The burden of proof and the burden of truth is not on the average citizen right now,” he said. “It's on the system and the structure of policing that has proven itself to be unfaithful and untrue."

But even as calls for law enforcement reform continue across Memphis, Dr. Fisher says there are some who have lost hope that things can change.  

"(There are) people who have been so disregarded and demonized and depressed by the system and the structure of policing," he said. 

While others or fear retaliation.

“Some of the people we've been in conversation with might want to have that conversation more thoroughly, but are also anxious around their encounters with police that might lead to even more retaliation or worse,” Dr. Fisher said. “Some of them are dealing with criminal charges that were filed against them, even though they were the ones who were ultimately brutalized.”

Dr. Fisher said this is why the BCCM wants to provide a safe haven for victims of police brutality or mistreatment to finally share their stories.

"Even if those people who we are trying to contact, or who we're asking to contact us don't want to go into detail about what happened,” Dr. Fisher said. “Simply share with us (if) they already reported something to the Office of Internal Affairs. We can log that and begin to build our case in a more collective capacity about how we have been trying to work within the system and the structure as it stands."

Through this effort, local faith leaders hope to bring together those who have felt alone or unheard to initiate long-awaited change.

"A class of people who have suffered from some of the circumstances as a byproduct of the unjust situation that we find ourselves in relative to policing in Memphis and Shelby County and really all around the country," Dr. Fisher said. 

To contact the Black Clergy Collaborative, call 901-701-7842, extension 903. Callers should leave their name, phone number, email address, and a few sentences about the police incident. 

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