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Ben Crump delivers fatal-shooting message

“This is a message, not only to Memphis, but to America,” said attorney Benjamin Crump. “Alvin Motley’s life mattered.”

Crump, one of the highest-profile civil rights lawyers in the country, took a stand with Motley’s family and local supporters during a news conference at Mt. Olive Cathedral C.M.E. Church on Tuesday (Aug. 10) afternoon.

Alvin Motley Jr., 48, who was visiting from Chicago, was fatally shot Saturday (Aug. 7) by a security guard at the Kroger Store fuel center at 6660 Poplar Ave., near the Memphis-Germantown city limits.

The guard, Gregory Livingston, 54, was charged with a second-degree murder, officials said. He is being held in the Shelby County Jail on $1.8 million bond.

Witnesses told police the shooting occurred during an altercation stemming from Livingston’s demand that a car’s loud music be turned down.

A spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Transportation said Livingston was not and is not licensed as a security guard.”

“Yet again, it is another unarmed, Black person killed, profiled because of the color of his skin,” Crump said.

“How many more times do we have to face the senseless, unnecessary unjustifiable leaving of our children in the morgue and families with holes in their hearts?”

Crump issued a statement prior to the news conference expressing why he feels the killing was racially motivated:

“…There is no question in my mind that this crime was racially motivated and a white person playing loud music in similar circumstances would be alive.”

Crump was joined at the news conference by dignitaries from across the city and concerned community activists.

Presiding Bishop Henry M. Williamson Sr. of the First Episcopal CME District offered an impassioned opening prayer, asking God’s mercy on “the plague of unarmed, Black men and women being killed in the streets.”

NAACP President Van Turner Jr., also a Shelby County Commissioner, resolves to pursue justice in the fatal shooting of Alvin Motley Jr. Also pictured (center): Presiding Bishop Henry M. Williamson Sr. of the First Episcopal CME District. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

Memphis Branch NAACP President Van Turner Jr., who also is a Shelby County commissioner, called for justice and pledged the organization’s support for the Motley family.

Wednesday (Aug. 11) morning, Turner reflected on Tuesday’s gathering.

“On yesterday, we stood shoulder-to-shoulder with another Black family whose son was shot down in his prime,” Turner said.

“We stood in solidarity with the Motley family, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, National Bar Association President Carlos Moore, Bishop Henry M. Williamson … and the Memphis Branch of NAACP members from across the city. We are demanding justice for the family of Alvin Motley, and we will not stop until they receive it.”

Motley was riding with friends, loud music blasting from the car when Livingston approached the car and demanded they turn it down. There was an exchange of words, according to witnesses.

Motley exited the car, with a beer and a cigarette, saying to Livingston that the two should discuss the matter “like men.”

Witnesses told police Motley was not physically threatening and he was not holding a weapon when Livingston pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.

Afterwards, police were called by Livingston saying that he had shot a man. Motley was lying on the pavement, unresponsive, when police arrived.

Attorney Benjamin Crump (left) supports Alvin Motley Sr., whose son, Alvin Motley Jr., was killed by a security guard last Saturday. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

“It’s just another case of white people imposing their will on Black people,” said Crump. “You obey me, and if you don’t obey me, I will kill you.”

Host Pastor Peris J. Lester I, presiding elder of the Northeast District of Tennessee, said his church always is open “to the community for the community.”

“We wanted to show support to the family and stand with those who are calling for justice,” said Lester.

“It is baffling to me that this young man got shot, and he wasn’t even the driver. And he was partially blind in both eyes. He had a disability.”

Alvin Motley Sr., Motley’s father, also spoke at the news conference.

Crump, along with the Motley family, met with Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich. Crump said the meeting was to “let her know how this family has been affected.”

Kroger released a statement Tuesday, saying Livingston was not employed by the company but a third-party contractor.

“We are deeply saddened, extremely angry and horrified by this senseless violence. Our hearts are with the Motley family. This tragic incident involved a third-party contractor onsite to provide security services at our Poplar Avenue Fuel Center,” Kroger said.

“We ask all third-party contractors to respect and honor our core values which include respect, diversity, and inclusion. We want to thank the Memphis Police Department for their swift action. The only outcome we seek is justice.”

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