After Sunday’s Black Lives Matter protest that shutdown Interstate 40 for over four hours, top city officials, including Interim Police Director Mike Rallings and Memphis Mayor Jim Stickland, agreed to meet with the leaders of the local BLM movement at the Greater Imani Church Monday evening.
At the meeting, the movement’s leaders presented city officials with a list of four demands, which included:
· Increasing minority contracting to 40 percent of Public Works contracts.
· Increasing programming in community centers and for young people.
· Better training for police officers, including sensitivity training.
· The Immediate appointment of Michael Rallings as permanent police director.
On Wednesday, Strickland responded to these demands via Facebook.
Increase minority contracting to 40 percent of Public Works contracts:
"Minority contracting is a priority of mine -- a passion, even. When I took office on New Year's Day, just 12 percent of city contracts went to minority or women-owned firms. In just our first four months, simply by hiring a new director in Joann Massey and making this a clear, concerted priority across city government, MWBE contracting increased 17 percent. As it relates to Public Works, the MWBE spend in an ongoing $250 million re-do of our sewer system is 35 percent. With Joann's work and my emphasis on this throughout city government, we will no doubt increase the overall percentage in the coming years. (And I encourage you to follow her office's Facebook presence here: Office of Business Diversity & Compliance)"
Increased programming in community centers and for young people:
"This is also a major priority of mine. In fact, I’ve called it “my No. 1 civic priority.” This summer, we’ve already increased activities at our community centers, including an innovative literacy tutoring program. Our libraries have greatly increased their programming. And we are working to expand -- not cut -- the quantity, quality and diversity of these programs. We welcome public input and assistance with that."
Better training for police officers, including sensitivity training:
"Cultural diversity and bias-based profiling training is already taught during every recruit training session, and our training academy staff is currently working on implementing additional training to address cultural diversity and bias-based profiling for upcoming in-service sessions. Training like this only serves to strengthen the already strong police force I'm thankful to have here in Memphis."
Immediately appoint Michael Rallings as permanent police director:
"I’ve gotten to know Michael Rallings quite well in the past few months, and I know him to be an outstanding and conscientious police officer and an even better human being. He has enforced policies and practices that treat all persons equally. We all agree he has shown outstanding leadership in recent days. Now you know why I asked him to apply for the permanent job. During my campaign, I promised to conduct a search and I will keep my promise -- and preserve the taxpayer investment in the search. Within a few weeks, I will make a selection."
Cox Media Group