Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland called for the police director to review a City Hall security list Saturday.
The 8-paged list, maintained by Memphis Police, was released Friday and named dozens of people who require an escort when visiting City Hall. It includes a number of prominent local activists and organizers.
Saturday Strickland released the following statement:
“I have never seen the security list at City Hall, and it is my understanding that this type of security list for city hall was created years ago, by MPD. No one has been denied entry or access to City Hall. I have heard the concerns about the list, so I have asked Director Rallings to thoroughly review the policy and meet with me next week to discuss next steps.”
Friday Strickland’s director of communications Ursula Madden released this statement:
“City Hall is open to the public, but peace and safety for all citizens and city employees in this building is important. Like all government buildings, there are security measures in place at City Hall. People who require an escort may include disgruntled employees who have been fired, people named on an authorization of agency, and individuals who are subject to orders of protection. It is the professional assessment of the Memphis Police Department’s Homeland Security Bureau that individuals on the list pose a potential security risk. It’s important to note that these individuals have not been banned from City Hall. They simply require an escort. The Memphis Police Department maintains this list, and is responsible for providing security at City Hall.”
“He came over to me and said I’m on a list…and then he said wherever I go in city hall I needed to be escorted,” said Fergus Nolan.
Nolan said he was at Memphis City Hall last week when he was detained by police. He explained he had never seen this so-called list, but was told it had to do with the die-in protest at Mayor Strickland’s home in December.
Nolan said he wasn’t there.
He did disclose he was arrested for taking pictures of police at the Greensward, but charges were dropped and his record expunged.
“So I have absolutely no record and I don’t do crimes, so there’s no legitimate criminal reason for me to be on a list,” said Nolan.
The list appears to be broken up into three parts.
The first part signed by Mayor Strickland January 4th this year, includes Nolan, activists Devante Hill who organized the Hernando DeSoto bridge protest last summer and Frank Gottie who has also been an outspoken voice and community organizer.
It also lists Mary Stewart, mother of Darrius Stewart who was killed by a MPD officer July 2015.
Ursula Madden, director of communications for the mayor’s office said the list is maintained by Memphis police and has existed for years. Madden said the only thing Strickland signed off on was the “authorization of agency” created after protestors held a die-in at his home and that portion was added to the security list.
The people named on that authorization of agency are also barred from Strickland’s home.
The list also includes names of former employees and people associated with harassment, vandalism or threatening behavior.
“I think an explanation is warranted, like I have no idea why am on there,” wondered Detric Golden.
Golden, a former University of Memphis basketball player and now community leader, called Strickland a friend and was surprised to see his name on the list.
Like Nolan, Golden said he was not at the die-in.
“It’s asinine if you ask me. I don’t know why my name would even be on there. I mean people that know me know that I’m a model citizen. I’ve never been in trouble with the law,” said Golden.
Paul Garner with Mid-South Peace and Justice said he was not at the die-in either, but he was arrested while filming police during protests at the Valero plant.
Garner and Nolan are concerned about the legality of the list.
“We have a consent decree from the federal government that forbids the gathering of political intelligence that can interfere with the exercise of peoples first amendment rights. The law has been broken here so someone has to be held accountable,” said Garner.
When asked about the list MPD sent the following statements:
“City Hall is a municipal public building; however, peace and safety for all citizens and city employees who are within City Hall is paramount. Like with all government facilities, security measures are in place. There are individuals who require an escort within City Hall, i.e. disgruntled employees who may have been terminated, individuals who have been named on an authorization of agency and individuals who are subject to orders of protection.”
“It is the duty of MPD to maintain the peace and safety for all within City Hall. As such, it was determined that these identified individuals would require an officer to accompany them as they conduct their business within City Hall.”
MPD has not said why the list was made and what the criteria is for people to be added to the list.