Memphis United began in February of 2013, as a coalition of grassroots organizations, community groups, and Memphis residents formed to confront structural and institution racism.
Formed when the KKK descended upon our city to protest the name changing of city parks, one of which honors infamous Klan leader, Nathan Bedford Forrest. The group knew that the Klan was baiting people for a reaction. Counter protestors came from out of town to confront them, and the city cordoned off downtown with 400 militarized officers. Instead of taking the bait, MU decided to coordinate a counter event, not to ignore their presence, but to provide an alternative event for people to plug into work to address systemic and institutionalized racism, which we knew would remain, long after the Klan had packed their bags and returned home.
In keeping with a structural and institutional analysis on racism, Memphis United reformed in October, following a string of incidents involving police harassment, excessive force, and arrests made while people were filming police. MU forced the city to release a policy that outlining the people’s legal right to film MPD officers, but we didn’t stop there.
Since then MU has narrowed its focus on confronting racism to our criminal justice system, pushing for greater police accountability on a number of fronts, including; the reformation and strengthening of the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) in November 2015, the development of an interactive Know Your Rights Theatre curriculum that educates young people about encounters with police, calling for U-Visas for undocumented immigrants, resolution around Memphis’ massive rape-kit backlog, sensitivity training for all officers around issues of homelessness, and many other aspects of criminal justice reform.
The Memphis United Coalition includes partners from:
- H.O.P.E. (Homeless Organizing For Power and Equality)
- L.O.U.D., Manna House Memphis
- K’PreSha Boutique
- Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition-TIRRC
- Memphis Center For Independent Living, Adapt TN
- Memphis Bus Riders Union
- The Bridge Street Newspaper
- Pro-Memphis Project
- Subliminal Thought
- Mid-South Peace and Justice Center
- Plus many concerned community members