Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas, the resolution sponsor: “This resolution is asking that the City of Memphis do its due diligence to ensure its citizens that we discourage this type of behavior.”

by James Coleman —

The Memphis City Council voted 12-1 during Tuesday’s meeting to investigate all city employees suspected of having been involved in the insurrection at the Capitol building in Washington D.C.

“This resolution is asking that the City of Memphis do its due diligence to ensure its citizens that we discourage this type of behavior,” said the resolution sponsor, Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas, during a meeting of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee before the full council vote.

“We all watched as January 6 resulted in turmoil and – for lack of a better word – terrorism at the U.S. Capitol. Afterwards, the nation tuned into the revealing after revealing of officers sworn in to protect and uphold the law across the nation facing charges for participation.”

The attack occurred after supporters of now former President Donald Trump attended a rally keynoted by Trump, who used strong language to encourage them to go to the Capitol and “fight” for the results they wanted in the presidential election. The surreal riot was preceded by dozens of lawsuits seeking to overturn results in states Trump lost in his defeat to now President Joseph Biden.

“I support my colleagues,” said Councilman Chase Carlisle. “There is nothing partisan about what the people’s house stands for. To storm and charge into the people’s house while Congress is sitting, with ill intent to move a political agenda, meets the threshold for terrorism. There is no debating about it. If there is someone sitting on the right side of the aisle that wants to debate me, I am happy to have it.” 

Memphis Police Department Director Michael Rallings said that the FBI was the lead investigative agency on the incursion and that there are regular talks between the MPD and FBI.

“To date, the FBI has no credible information that any Memphis police officer participated in the attack on the Capitol,” Rallings said via telephone.

The rioters were a ragtag mass that featured lawmakers, business people, white supremacists, activists and conspiracy theorists, as well as police officers and other public employees

The language of the resolution was clarified by Carlisle in an amendment. It stated that the resolution applied to all employees – not just police, as the original resolution requested – and investigations would be based on evidence submitted by the FBI, other federal agencies or other credible legal sources.

“I think the intent of this is to get on the public record that the council asked the police to investigate this, not that we didn’t think they were doing anything,” said Councilman Jeff Warren. “We wanted the public to understand we are involved and we are asking questions.” 

The resolution follows a 12-0 vote on Monday (Jan. 25) by the Shelby County Board of Commissioners condemning the attack on the Capitol. The add-on agenda item was sponsored by Commissioners Mick Wright and Reginald Milton. It was moved by Commissioner Willie Brooks and seconded by Commissioner Van Turner Jr.

Commissioners voting in favor were Mark Billingsley, Tami Sawyer, Michael Whaley, David Bradford, Edmund Ford Jr., Amber Mills, Mickell Lowery, Eddie Jones, Turner, Wright, Milton and Brooks. Commissioner Brandon Morrison abstained from voting.