For the last year, Black Lives Matter Nashville (BLMN), as an organizational member of the Community Oversight Now Coalition, has been working diligently to win community oversight in Nashville. Jocques Clemmons’ death in February 2017 has reignited a fire among Nashvillians who want to see their local government be more transparent and accountable.
Why Community Oversight Now?
Between 2005 and 2015 nearly 700 citizen complaints were filed per year against the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD). Of those complaints, 98% were completely dismissed by the MNPD’s internal investigation department. This staggering number alone does enough to demonstrate just how inept the Metro Police Department is at regulating itself, as overwhelming evidence from external organizations, research analysts, and everyday people tells another story. In 2017, Gideon Army released its Driving While Black report assessing 2 million MNPD stops between 2011 and 2015 that found strong evidence of racial bias regarding police stops and roadside searches. While heaps of evidence has been provided to support a Community Oversight board in Nashville, our city government and MNPD continue to believe that Nashville has no real problem. When questionable things happen, such as racial profiling and the shooting of Jocques Clemmons, responsibility lies within the department where the incidents happen. In a glaringly evident contradiction of interests, victims of police misconduct in Nashville are forced to rely on the police to police themselves. But doctors don’t regulate themselves. Restaurants don’t regulate themselves. Yet, MNPD officers regulate themselves without any accountability. Hence, the proposed oversight board shall have primary jurisdiction in the investigation of alleged misconduct committed by MNPD employees against civilian members of the public, in addition to having the authority to study and make advisory recommendations regarding the function of Nashville’s criminal justice system.
On April 11, the Community Oversight Now Coalition launched a campaign to formally place the issue of community oversight on the ballot. In the coming weeks, Community Oversight Now Coalition will be collecting signatures from Nashville citizens to petition in favor of the new ballot measure. In order for Black and Brown voices to be heard, we need your support. Because the opposition is powerful, it will take money, resources, and countless hours of dedicated organizing to carry out our mission of holding police truly accountable and creating safer communities for those most vulnerable to both the whims of individual police officers and the systematic violence of the police state at-large. As a resilient people, we have always had to have our own. In order to win, we must be the ones to fund our movements. We invite you to join us in this critical work by supporting with a sustaining or one-time donation.