FOX13 Investigates: Secret surveillance of Black Lives Matter protesters

FOX13 Investigates: Secret surveillance of Black Lives Matter protesters

Memphis, TN — FOX13 Investigates has learned Memphis Police engaged in political surveillance of protesters connected to Black Lives Matter.

Several law enforcement sources told us the intelligence collected helped to create the so called watch list at Memphis City Hall.

The intelligence gathered included vital information such as date of birth, height and weight.  Protesters told us MPD got the information through surveillance.

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For example, cell phone video recorded and posted on the Facebook page of Keedran "TN" Franklin shows Memphis Police outside his union headquarters.

It was posted on to his Facebook page on February 6th.

Union organizer Antonio Cathey told us protesters have been under surveillance by Memphis Police.

"Sometimes they sit outside our offices, sometimes they sit outside our house."  Asked who they were. Cathey replied "the police."

Local minister and peace activist Elaine Blanchard was surprised to find her name on the list that doesn't allow people inside city hall without an escort.

Blanchard's only connection to the Black Lives Matter protests was when she crossed the barricade without problem during the Graceland protests last year.

The list had information about Blanchard that she doesn't readily share.

"My weight was on this list. I am curious to know where did the mayor's office and the police department get my weight."

Law enforcement sources told FOX13 Investigates police began gathering information on Blanchard after the protest at Graceland.

Cathey for his involvement at both the Graceland demonstration and the one at the bridge.

FOX13 caught up with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland at and event downtown.

We asked him about allegations that his police department had engaged in political surveillance ”Now that's a separate issue from the list. I've asked the police director to review the procedure with respect to the list" said Mayor Strickland.

Sources said the lawyers for the Memphis Police Department and the City of Memphis conferred regularly to make sure they didn't violate a federal agreement that states the Memphis and City of Memphis do not engage in political intelligence.

FOX13 asked the mayor if he had any knowledge of meetings between the lawyers representing both the City and the MPD.

"All the more reason I have asked the trusted police director to review the situation," The mayor told FOX13 the list was developed in response to the early morning protest outside his home in January that left him angry and his family shaken.

The front page of the list includes legal language forbidding a certain number of people from being on his property.

The police used that criteria to develop the list to keep people away from his home.

He claims the notation on the top of the page with the hand writing that reads " also have to be escorted while in city hall" was written by MPD Lt. Albert Bonner and the mayor was unaware until the media requested the document in an open records request.