Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland was booed and ridiculed by residents who attended a Black Lives Matter meeting in Raleigh Monday night.
The meeting was organized spontaneously by MPD’s Interim Director Mike Rallings and protesters during Sunday night’s protest that shut down the I-40 Bridge downtown.
“We're going to have to lay out a platform and move forward,” Rallings said Sunday night to protesters, as they planned Monday’s meeting at Greater Imani Church.
Rallings stressed repeatedly to protesters that he was interested in policy reform, and their concerns would be heard. However, several people in attendance told FOX13 the meeting felt publicized and political, and they did not have the opportunity to speak to city leaders as they were promised.
“It wasn't the people in the crowd. It was the people on the podium,” Michael Brown said. “Mayor Strickland wanted to have his way. He didn't want the people to speak and say what they have to say.”
Organizers, including representatives with Black Lives Matter, put an end to public comments due to an overwhelming number of people who wanted to talk, and because organizers said they were off topic.
“It was kind of political if you ask me,” Ivory Jones, a Memphis resident who attended the meeting, said. “It was more of like them trying to tell us what they're going to do. Politics and church and then this kind of rally, to me it doesn't go together.”
Brown said Strickland didn’t come to hear the public Monday night.
“People didn't get to speak,” Brown said. “We didn’t get to speak our minds.”
Protesters at the meeting were also upset that Strickland didn’t offer Rallings the job as Memphis’ permanent police director.
After receiving national attention for locking arms with demonstrators who shut down a bridge, leaders of the local Black Lives Matter movement called for the Rallings immediate appointment as permanent director.
While Rallings expressed hesitation to take the role, Strickland added that he promised to conduct a thorough national search for a director.
“I serve the public,” Strickland said.
The crowd of about 1,000 people went into an uproar after that comment booing and shouting, “We are the public.”
Mayor Strickland explained that he represents everyone in the city, not just those in Greater Imani Church Monday night who support the Black Lives Matter movement.
“There are more than 650,000 people in this city,” Strickland said. “I promised them during the campaign that I would do a search, and I’m going to follow through with that promise.”
Strickland and protest organizers said they will host more meetings to give people a chance to ask questions and continue the discussion about police and community relations.
The next meeting is scheduled for July 21 at Greater Community Temple from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Strickland also promised to answer everyone’s written questions and publish the responses to the City’s website.
Cox Media Group