MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Black Autonomy Federation picketed Memphis city hall Monday, saying police have killed 10 people this year, and they want the public records related to each event.
There were three people picketing. Most people walked by them and didn't pay attention. Those that did were given handouts proclaiming 10 people have been killed by police brutality.
If you stopped, then Lorenzo Ervin of the Memphis Black Autonomy Federation would tell you the Memphis city attorney and police were trying to keep public information away from his group.
"Tell us we've got to pay in advance to get it, which is in violation of state law and telling us we've got to pay as much as $25 per case and all this kind of stuff," he says. "It would mean we have to pay hundreds of dollars up front to access documents we should be entitled to under state law."
Welcome to the world of so-called public records in Tennessee. State law says the governments can charge you for time spent finding information, and they can charge you for making copies. There's a price on open records.
"We're going to file a lawsuit, that's what's going to happen. There is no other way. We've been telling these people all of the time, look we're trying to avoid having a lawsuit here."
Lorenzo Ervin says ten people have died because of Memphis police brutality. Of the five shot, four of those shootings were ruled justified; the fifth one remains under investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Two people were killed in a car accident where an officer was charged. Three died in police custody.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton says he's not sure what the group is talking about and wants them to me more specific with what they want.
"I'm at a loss. As soon as they refine it and tell us what it is, if we have it, I've already sent an e-mail this morning saying if we've got it, let them have it. But we quite frankly don't know what it is."
By the way, Mayor Wharton said as soon as Police Director Toney Armstrong returns to the city, he will announce the members of his police committee. He says the announcement will be worth the wait.