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VOL. 131 | NO. 140 | Thursday, July 14, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: Regrouping, Freedom Awards and The View From Another Bridge

By Bill Dries

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It will be a year come Sunday – a year since Darrius Stewart, a passenger in a car pulled over by Memphis Police in Hickory Hill was shot and killed by Officer Conner Schilling.

In addition to being a grim anniversary that becomes part of our own particular mix here in Memphis of what is the nation’s top issue at the moment, there is a legal aspect to the one-year mark.

Just before the one-year mark is when lawsuits are filed over such incidents.

And that is what the family of Stewart did Wednesday in Memphis federal court.

The wrongful death suit that alleges constitutional violations seeks $17 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Attorneys for the family are citing a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report made public last year that detailed several significant ways Schilling broke police policy and guidelines in the incident. The TBI report also concludes that the second shot that killed Stewart was fired as Stewart was getting up and was a good distance away from Schilling.

The city’s Chief Legal Officer, Bruce McMullen, responded on one specific point. He argues that the city isn’t at fault because it had policies in place that Schilling violated.

The attorneys were part of what amounted to a day of regrouping Wednesday for the various groups that are part of the Black Lives Matter movement locally.

It amounts to taking a breath after three very busy days – Sunday’s bridge protest followed by Monday’s stormy session at Greater Imani in Raleigh and Tuesday’s reaction to the disagreements from that meeting including a sit-in on Elvis Presley Boulevard with the first arrests of the protests made there.

At the National Civil Rights Museum, the five honorees were announced for the museum’s annual Freedom Awards to be awarded in October.

And Black Lives Matter along with criminal justice system reform will be a dominant topic at the public forum that features remarks by the award recipients including attorneys Benjamin Crump and Brian Stevenson.

The legal eagles reading this will also be interested in what federal appeals court judge Damon Keith has to say. He is also an award recipient and he is the longest serving judge in the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – the circuit that includes Memphis.

This is pretty unusual for a federal judge of any kind.

Museum president Terri Lee Freeman also said Wednesday, the museum has evolved to working with the recipients on current issues.

That began last year when Ruby Bridges Hall was honored. As a child in 1960, she integrated public schools in New Orleans. She is the child in the famous Norman Rockwell painting that currently hangs in the White House.

As an adult, Bridges-Hall heads a foundation that works on issues of race relations. And she returned to the museum this year for a book drive that her foundation conducts in several cities – now including Memphis.

Now that we are past midnight and the embargo on this, go to www.bigrivercrossing.com for a look at the view from the Big River Crossing, the boardwalk on the north side of the Harahan Bridge.

The website debuts Thursday and it has plenty of photos and videos and other links about the present of the boardwalk and the past of the Harahan.

But it is the view that is the star of the show and what will, I predict, bring many of us to the center of the boardwalk -- once it opens to the public October 22 -- for a new perspective.

“The thing about leadership is, leaders eat last,” University of Tennessee football coach Butch Jones this week at SEC Media Days in Birmingham.

Don Wade on Big Orange optimism after a couple of seasons of not a lot to cheer about in Vol Land.

There is so much focus here on the dysfunction of the local Democratic party’s executive committee that it can be easy to assume that Republicans are just humming along.

Not so, says our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard who, in his View From The Hill column, looks at the rift over Donald Trump’s move to claim the Republican Presidential nomination and the effect it is having within the state Republican party.

And then there is Jeremy Durham, the Republican state Rep. from Franklin, who, according to a report from the Attorney General's office released Wednesday in Nashville, had inappropriate sexual contact with 22 women and should be expelled from the Legislature. Earlier this year, Durham was exiled from the Legislature's office space for legislators to limit his contact with women working on the hill. Here is The Tennessean's rundown.

Also among our columns, Andre Fowlkes on the city’s digital divide.

A slip in home sales locally in June, but prices are still going up, according to new data from Chandler Reports, the real estate information company that is part of The Daily News Publishing Co.

And Chandler numbers show the mortgage market locally was up 8 percent in June from a year ago.

In the Memphis Real Estate Recap: details of the Madison Hotel sale, Helena Chemical at Schilling Farms and the Shops at Millington Farms.


The Beige Book sees modest growth.

The U.S. goes to the World Trade Organization over the Chinese tax on raw materials.

The Bank of England considers a rate cut as a hedge against Brexit fallout.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396