In Council News, Isaiah Thomas, News by admin

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — Memphis City Council becomes the latest municipality to adopt its own version of Driving Equality. Councilmember Michalyn Easter-Thomas of Memphis has worked closely with Philadelphia Councilmember Isaiah Thomas to replicate his bill to reclassify 8 minor traffic violations to create a safer city for all.

“The goal of Driving Equality is to reduce interactions between police and the public and to allow police to focus on serious crimes, not poverty crimes,” said Councilmember Easter-Thomas. “What this ordinance is, is surrounding the idea of 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.”

Following the death of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died at the hands of Memphis police officers initiated by a January 7th traffic stop, Memphis advocacy groups have pushed for the passage of Driving Equality as part of a set of comprehensive police reforms. Decarcreate Memphis and Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope spoke about the need for Driving Equality at yesterday’s Council session to help prevent similar deaths and help the Memphis community heal.

Driving Equality passed Memphis City Council with all eleven present Councilmembers voting in favor of the legislation (Councilmembers Morgan and Canale were not present at the meeting). Throughout this process, Councilmember Isaiah Thomas and his office worked closely with Councilmember Michalyn Easter-Thomas to help replicate Philadelphia’s success as municipalities across the nation follow the Philadelphia office’s lead.

“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 Isaiah Thomas. “I’m proud to work with Councilmember Easter-Thomas in Memphis because she shares the servant leadership mentality of bringing people together to achieve of the common goal. The unfortunate and preventable death of Tyre Nichols is a reminder of why policies like Driving Equality exist. I believe we will continue to see other cities follow the leadership of Philly and Memphis.”

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.

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