Mayor Jim Strickland discusses Black Lives Matter in sit-down with FOX13

Mayor Strickland discusses recent protests in sit-down interview

The Black Lives Matter movement is growing in Memphis.  It's a movement Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says he supports.

"Black lives absolutely matter," Strickland said.  "City government, police department, all divisions of city government need to treat people equally."

Unequal treatment of black men by white police officers is the central complaint of the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Local demonstrators shutdown the Interstate 40 bridge Sunday for almost five hours.  That protest led to Strickland meeting with community activists at a Memphis church Monday, where they communicated a list of four demands.  Among the demands; more community policing, cultural and sensitivity training for police officers and the immediate promotion of interim police director Mike Rawlings to permanent director.

"We want community policing.  We want good training for our officers. Director Rallings has told me that we have senssitivity training, but he's open to the discussion about how to improve it."

As far as Rallings becoming the permanent director, Strickland said the list of finalists will be trimmed to between four and six Friday, and as of right now, Rallings is still in the running.

Strickland said he is concerned about Black Lives Matter protests turning violent, like in other cities, despite there being no arrests in the massive demonstration on the bridge.

"Yes, and we're constantly monitoring the situation.  Social media is being followed because so much communication is going on there.  The police department talks to the community a lot, so they're picking up on where these protests may be."

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