Memphis Council  Passes ‘Driving Equality’ Ordinance after the Death of Tyre Nichols 

PC: Thomas R Machnitzki
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By Cheyenne Galloway

MEMPHIS, TN – The Memphis City Council, calling it an effort to foster safer driving procedures and an overall safer community while limiting interaction between police and the Black populace, adopted a “Driving Equality” ordinance Wednesday after a council majority voted 11-0 for the measure.

The push toward “Driving Equality” deepened after the murder of Tyre Nichols, a Black man killed by Memphis police officers Jan. 7 after a traffic stop, according to council members.

Tyre Nichols’ death, in conjunction with countless others, sparked a debate at the council session from advocacy groups, such as Decarcerate Memphis and Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope, about the need for “Driving Equality.”

The passed legislation will “reclassify eight minor traffic violations” to limit interactions between the public and police for driving misconduct, said the council, noting Memphis police should have more flexibility to address significant crimes rather than poverty crimes.

Memphis Councilmember Michalyn Easter-Thomas worked alongside Philadelphia Councilmember Isaiah Thomas to replicate Philadelphia’s “Driving Equality” initiative following its success.

Easter-Thomas explains the ordinance deals with “pretextual stops, how they aren’t helpful and how they divert resources away from our clearly intentioned needs in our community such as dealing with crime and aiding our citizens.”

“Driving Equality is successful in Philadelphia due to its collaborative nature – by bringing together public defenders, police officers, legal experts, community leaders, and everyone with a passion for doing better—we created meaningful reform that is being replicated across the nation,” said Councilmember Easter-Thomas.

Driving Equality has been an enforced bill in Philadelphia for over a year; mandated data collection shows that it is reducing overall traffic stops without negatively impacting public safety, Isaiah Thomas noted.

About The Author

Cheyenne Galloway recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a double major in Political Science and Italian Studies. Graduating at the top of her class and achieving the distinction Laurea cum laude in her Italian Studies major, she showcases her enthusiasm for knowledge, finding ways to think critically and creatively. She is particularly interested in writing and reporting on social justice and human rights, but as a writing/reporting generalist, she enjoys researching and communicating various topics through written expression.

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