Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Duanna Johnson beating: One year later and nothing from Bill Gibbons

One year ago, the Tennessee GLBT community was processing the revelations of the brutual beating of Duanna Johnson, a Memphis transgender woman in police custody. Johnson was subsequently murdered in November.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed charges against officer Bridges McCrae, but we haven't seen any action from another significant player. According to a recent email from the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition:

The Office of the Shelby County District Attorney has refused to file charges against Memphis Police Officer Bridges McRae for the February 2008 beating of Duanna Johnson. To its credit, the U.S. Department of Justice did so in November 2008, but local authorities will not. The District Attorney of Shelby County, Bill Gibbons, is running for Governor of Tennessee on an "anti-crime" platform.

Gibbons did, however, show a great deal of interest in investigating the leak of the beating tape. I suppose many will say "So what?" and "The feds filed charges so he didn't need to." My question is whether Gibbons can explain what it says about his leadership that his reaction was to focus on the leak of the tape rather than the horrible human event that took place. He has a great personal story about his roots. But what can he tell us about his judgment in tough situations that would overcome the image of a man more interested in processes and procedures rather than victims of civil rights violations?

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