Local clergy responds after mayors interpret their letters very differently

WATCH: Local clergy responds after mayors interpret their letters very differently

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — New questions Monday about two very different takes on the same letter sent to the city and county mayors following public outcry for police reform.

“I think one has the tone and the tenor of an ally and the other has the tone and the tenor of an adversary which is regretful,” said Reverend Earle Fisher.

The mayors were responding to a joint letter from clergy members outlining police reform.

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“We are where we are at least some part in because of so much of what we have put on the table over the past several years has not been honored or embraced,” Fisher said.

In Harris’ letter, he said in part, “We are grateful for the clear measures you have offered to improve public safety and build trust in the criminal justice system. Our office will take these measures into serious consideration as we move forward.”

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But in his letter, Strickland said he shared the group’s disappointment, saying after meeting with a group of pastors for 12 hours over five meetings, “...they brought no new concrete solutions to the table, unlike the Black Lives Matters Memphis Group I met with for one hour earlier this week who brought dozens of written, actionable suggestions.”


“We are not in competition with any other activist group, I believe our efforts are harmonized, we’re in some ways working toward the same ends so to get that response, after we have spent that amount of time and laid out clear proposals was a bit disconcerting,” said Pastor J. Lawrence Turner of the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.

Fisher believes the different responses to the same letter may be political.

Strickland is in his last term and Harris is about halfway through his first.

“But at the end of the day, this is not the time to be playing politics, this is the time to put the best ideas on the table irrespective of who they come from and do the best that we can to save more lives in Memphis and Shelby County,” Fisher said.

Pastor Turner said they are giving Harris more time to review their proposals.

“Hopefully it’ll translate into some action around a committee, a task force being put together to not just put together, to not just put together a list of reforms but to reimagine what policing is like in Shelby county and the city of Memphis,” said Pastor Turner.