On Aug. 11, Black Lives Matter Nashville and the family of Daniel Hambrick hosted a rally and march called #Justice4DanDan. The event took place at Watkins Park near the location where Hambrick was shot and killed by a member of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. Daniel Hambrick was a 25-year-old Black Nashvillian who was gunned down while running away by a white cop, Andrew Delke, following a traffic stop near the John Henry Hale Apartments in North Nashville.
Following demands for transparency from the public, the MNPD released video footage of the shooting on August 8. In it, Hambrick can be seen running for blocks while Delke chased him. Though he is said to have been armed, Hambrick made no attempt to reach for a weapon or to fire one at the officer. Instead, he appeared to be running for his life. Unable to catch Hambrick, Delke stopped running, aimed his gun at him, and shot him three times, including once in the back of the head. It has been reported in local news outlets that Delke then walked away from the body and made no attempt to provide critical aid to Hambrick. Indeed, no one attempted to help Hambrick until the ambulance arrived, at which point he was likely dead.
District Attorney Glenn Funk has yet to charge Delke. Moreover, Mayor David Briley and Police Chief Steve Anderson have yet to state that Delke’s actions were wrong, instead calling the incident “disturbing.” Briley held a press conference on August 8 before the video was released to the media. During the conference, he asked that Nashvillians remain patient and orderly while the investigation is going on. He then introduced the idea of implementing the NYU Policing Project in Nashville.
The Project, which was first presented by former Mayor Megan Barry to minimize the influence of Community Oversight Now’s push to create a Community Oversight Board in Nashville, claims to increase dialogue and understanding between the police department and the communities they allegedly serve. Mayor Briley claimed that the Project has worked in Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York City, St. Louis and Tampa. The plan is to create better policing practices that are guided by rules and policies created in advance, that are transparent, and that are formulated with input from the public. As Briley put it, it will allow “police departments to develop the use of sound metrics of success that encompass all goals of policing, including community trust.”
The Mayor then went on to admit that everyone has known that something needed to change within the MNPD before Hambrick’s murder. He claimed that the Policing Project will conveniently allow the MNPD to make the changes needed to improve policing tactics and priorities. He stated that his role is not to make any judgement about Hambrick’s murder. Instead, his role is to make sure that the “absolute best” is being done when it comes to policing communities in Nashville. Mayor Briley then asked everyone watching to refrain from making conclusions about the shooting until the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is done exploring the incident and until Chief Anderson has made a decision.
Delke was not wearing a body camera during his encounter with Hambrick and his dashboard camera was turned off. Yet, he has only been put on administrative leave for the time being, and Anderson claims to have directed training academy personnel to review its policies surrounding foot chases so to see if any changes are needed. Moreover, the MNPD denies engaging in racial profiling and claims not to stop people based solely on their race.
However, Black people make up about 28 percent of Nashville’s population. A local community organization, Gideon’s Army, released a report in 2016 which analyzed data from 2 million traffic stops that took place in the city between 2011 and 2015. Their analysis showed that Blacks were disproportionately stopped. Moreover, the report found that while about 700 complaints were filed against the MNPD per year during this time, 98 percent of these complaints were resolved in the officers’ favor. Hambrick’s killing was the second high profile shooting of a Black man by a cop in the city in less than two years.
Members of Hambrick’s family have been vocal before the media about their demands that Delke be fired and charged with first-degree murder. They also demand that Anderson, who has worked for the MNPD for 43 years, step down. Several of them were present for the rally on Aug. 11, and they spoke before the crowd of about 100 people. They called for an end to the injustice in the police force and spoke of how unfair it was that an officer could shoot and kill a person that he was unable to catch.
Hambrick’s cousin pointed out that Hambrick and Delke were both 25. She said that she wonders what the cop was thinking when he saw her cousin. She surmised that something more sinister than Hambrick being a man like himself living a separate life must have gone through Officer Delke’s head. She stated that a change needs to be made in the way police are trained.
Members of Black Lives Matter Nashville then spoke. They stressed how Gideon’s Army warned the city two years ago that killings like this one and that of Jocques Clemmons’ on February 10, 2017 by Officer Joshua Lippert could happen in Nashville. They then demanded that Delke and Anderson be fired and that the next police chief be community hired and reviewed. One member then recalled the murder of her uncle by Nashville police in the 1970s. It was around this time that the idea of a Community Oversight Board was first introduced to the city. She asked the crowd: “When injustice appears at your door, you have a community to stand by you. Will we stand together to get the job done?” Those gathered responded affirmatively.
The rally was followed by a march of over a mile during which community members stopped traffic and shouted slogans surrounding the need for the community to fight against police violence. This fight, along with the needs to hold Officer Delke responsible for the murder of Daniel Hambrick and for the creation of a Community Oversight Board in city, continue in Nashville. State sanctioned violence of the police against the citizenry is allowed in the capitalist system to keep the populace down and defenseless against those in power. We must fight to end this system and police terror against communities of color.