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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tennessee Equality Project and MGLCC meet with Memphis Police Department

Memphis, TN. June 29, 2011. Representatives of Tennessee Equality Project and the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center and other members of the LGBT community met privately with Memphis Police Department Director Toney Armstrong and his command staff yesterday. TEP requested the meeting with the Memphis Police Department to discuss LGBT diversity training and other policy matters following news of a police stop of transgender woman Kiare Newsom in May.

Kiare Newsom alleges that officers harassed her during a traffic stop, called her homophobic and transphobic slurs, and told her to lift her shirt along a busy highway. Newsom filed a complaint against the officers involved in the incident with internal affairs. The outcome of that investigation is still pending.

The Tennessee Equality Project Foundation provided LGBT diversity training to the Memphis Police Department Training Academy staff and other officers in 2008 following the beating of transgender woman Duanna Johnson by Bridges McRae, a former Memphis Police Officer. The MPD terminated McRae following the incident, and he is currently serving a jail sentence for violating Duanna Johnson's civil rights. The purpose of Tuesday's meeting included a review of current MPD diversity training curriculum and exploring ways in which the MPD and the LGBT community can work together to ensure that all citizens in the community are protected and treated fairly - with a particular emphasis on transgender individuals.

Director Armstrong expressed a commitment to fairness and treating people equally and is willing to address  concerns about interactions between LGBT members of the community and the MPD. Mayor A C Wharton also visited with the assembled group and offered constructive ideas for addressing presented concerns. The spirit of cooperation among community leaders, Memphis Police Command staff and Mayor Wharton during the meeting encouraged Tuesday's participants to move forward in partnership. We promised to meet again, continue our discussion, and explore more opportunities for community engagement.

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