• Year to Date: 91% of people arrested for suspended license in Memphis are black

    By: Jim Spiewak


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - To find Memphians without a driver’s license, Monday a FOX13 news crew went to the basement of 201 Poplar, outside the court rooms.  

    They found Ishni Herron who has had a suspended license since 2014, “I feel like just being in this city is a struggle. If you able to get out this city, just get out,” Herron said.  

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    Herron lost her license when she couldn’t afford to pay a traffic ticket.  

    She’s now behind $1,300 in reinstatement fees and fines adding, “it's very hard because as soon as you take two steps forward you get pushed two steps back,” Herron said.  

    I found that since the first of the year, 91% of the arrests MPD has made for a suspended license has been of a black person.  

    That’s 474 black men and women. Over that same time, 43 whites have been arrested.   

    “I don't look at the person's color of their skin, I mean, everyone has their own struggles and I hate it,” said 25-year-old single mother Britny Morgan.  

    Morgan is white and has also had her licenses suspended for two years, but she is in the minority when it comes to suspended license offenses adding, “I constantly have to wait for somebody to get off work or to take me back or get on the bus.”  

    Josh Spickler runs the advocacy group Just City. 

    “This is the same issue that New York City saw with stop and frisk, this is Memphis' version of stop and frisk,” Spickler said.   

    His group is suing the state of Tennessee to stop the practice of suspending a license for non-payment of court costs which he says predominately effects low income folks.   

    Spickler said the 91% rate among blacks shows another glaring trend adding, “What we saw in NYC is something very similar - black men walking down the street were stopped and frisked for no other reason than they were walking down the street as a young black man. In Memphis, Tennessee it's the exact same thing only you're in a car.”  

    Multiple attempts for comment from MPD were not returned on Monday.  

    Click here for the attached full list of arrests MPD sent FOX13.  

    The time period is January 1, 2018 to May 23, 2018 and the document was prepared on June 1, 2018. 

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