The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee called on Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson to resign in a statement released Wednesday.
“Over the last ten days, tens of thousands of Nashvillians have stood together in peaceful protests to express their outrage over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. These powerful protests highlight the outrage over the enduring and deep-rooted problem of racist policing and structural racism in the United States,” the group said in its statement.
The ACLU said recent protests, which in some cases have turned violent, reflect “Nashvillians’ long-held grievances against policing in Nashville.”
In particular, the group expressed frustration with Anderson’s alleged refusal to collaborate with the Community Oversight Board, which was established in 2018 after the deaths of Jocques Clemmons and Daniel Hambrick. The board has independent authority to investigate allegations of misconduct against the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.
Under Anderson’s leadership, the police department has been reluctant to use police body cameras and has dismissed allegations of racial profiling during traffic stops, said the ACLU.
“It is time to reimagine the culture of policing in Nashville. Metro Nashvillians need a police chief who adheres to a policing philosophy that is built on positive community-police relations for all Nashvillians and an end to over-policing by reducing and refining the role and responsibilities of police. We need a police chief who will support divestment of the police budget and reinvestment of those funds into the community,” the statement added.
Three members of the Metro Council also called for Anderson’s resignation earlier this week after his department issued arrest warrants for two local activists, only to rescind the warrants three hours later upon reviewing “additional information.”
According to the Nashville Scene, at least 13 council members have now signed their names to a resolution asking Mayor John Cooper to request Anderson’s resignation.
“It is time for Mayor John Cooper to call for the resignation of Metropolitan Nashville Chief of Police Steve Anderson in order to create meaningful policy and behavioral change in the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department,” states the text of the resolution.
The ACLU said Anderson’s approach to policing “raises serious concerns about his willingness to examine structural racism.”
“For these reasons, ACLU-TN is compelled to request the resignation of Police Chief Steve Anderson,” the group said. “To be clear, the resignation of Chief Anderson alone will not end racist policing and the oppressive treatment of communities of color on which policing in America was founded. But it’s a first step.”
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