MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Members of the LGBTQ+ community had the chance to have a face-to-face conversation with local law enforcement at a forum hosted by Out Memphis and The Haven Memphis Monday night.
“We need to build a better relationship with the police overall, the police need to build a better relationship with our community,” said Jenna Dunn, LGBTQ+ advocate.
Memphis Police Department Chief CJ Davis was joined by Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner and District Attorney Steve Mulroy to have an open dialogue about the concerns of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Trust is something we are all working on, and this is just the beginning. It definitely is, and I’m just going to stay optimistic about it,” Davis said.
One of the first topics of discussion involved an incident at the Museum of Science and History in September, where alleged members of the Proud Boys showed up to a family drag show with guns.
“Before, we could just ask a person, ‘Why are you here with this weapon? You are intimidating, you have to leave the place. Now it is no longer prohibited by law,” she said.
Chief Davis assured the community that they were allies and that their intention that night was not to cancel the event but to keep the community safe, which begged another question: what are our local law enforcement agencies doing to educate staff about the LGBTQ community?
“We have sensitivity training that our officers go through every year now. For the first time in years, we never had an LGBTQ affair, and now we have one at the sheriff’s office,” Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner said.
They also discussed anti-LGBTQ legislation which all three panel members agreed they were against.
“It seems very easy to me to say that I would oppose this legislation. This clearly seems like a solution looking for a problem. I don’t really think it’s about anything real,” District Attorney Steve Mulroy said.
More importantly, this was one of the first conversations to help build the trust that organizers tell us it desperately needs between their community and community leaders.
“It has to be continuous. This conversation, this relationship, needs to unfold consistently over time,” said Krista Wright-Thayer, Director of Outreach and Prevention at Friends For Life.
Organizers said they hope to have these conversations a few times a year to follow up on each discussion and present any new issues that may arise.
Suggest a fix