About 75 people rallied at the downtown Nashville Courthouse on July 13 to demand accountability and transparency from the Metro Nashville Police Department and for the creation of a Community Oversight Board. Community Oversight Now and Black Lives Matter Nashville have been collecting signatures to get the proposal to establish a Community Oversight Board on the November ballot.
Community Oversight Now, Black Lives Matter Nashville, Southerners on New Ground, and the Justice for Jocques Coalition spoke at the rally stressing the need to hold the police accountable for their actions. The Justice for Jocques Coalition formed after Officer Joshua Lippert shot Jocques Clemmons to death on Feb. 10, 2017, after a routine traffic stop.
The call for a Board to protect the people’s civil rights stemmed from ongoing police violence within the Black community, as well as police abuse of women and transgender residents.
It was noted that Officer Lippert had eight infractions on his record before he murdered Jocques Clemmons. Yet, Lippert still has the job of patrolling the James A. Cayce Homes housing project where Clemmons was executed. The fact that killer cops such as Lippert are called upon to patrol Black and Latino communities shows the racist nature of the MNPD.
Speakers stressed the need for an end to the money bail system and ICE. The bail system — disproportionately affecting poor communities — allows people to languish in jail until sentenced if they cannot afford bail. Another speaker called on attendees to house a person who is being targeted by ICE as a way to block deportations. They called for community members to stand together against the state apparatus that seeks to divide families and persecute people who are only trying to make a living.
A march through downtown Nashville followed the rally with chants calling for the MNPD be held accountable for their actions. The group stopped traffic twice to gather in a large circle in the street and make their demands known. They were undeterred by jeers from some passersby and continued their march.
After the march, everyone reconvened at the Courthouse and vowed to continue the struggle. The activists will continue to gather signatures for the ballot initiative through early August and will keep up the fight for justice for victims of police terror in Nashville.