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Daily Inspiration: Meet Decarcerate Memphis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Decarcerate Memphis.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
During Trump’s “tough on crime” reelection campaign, we came together while the pandemic was surging and people were really suffering.

Criminalizing poor, working-class Black and Brown communities was a grossly inappropriate response, especially considering those communities were most affected by Covid-19.

Once Biden was elected we took the time to re-evaluate the issues that are specific to Memphis and what particular issues the criminal justice system operates on as a whole. We learned about traffic stops and how dangerous traffic stops are to the general public.

So we decided to put a campaign together to end pretextual traffic stops.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Organizing in Memphis has many challenges, we’re in a predominantly conservative state and there’s still a lot of conservatism that lingers in the city. The conservative statehood targets Black and Brown cities like Memphis.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
For the last few months, we have been working with community partners to host brake light repair clinics. These clinics are free to the public and supported by volunteers.

It’s been a really exciting opportunity to meet people who are most impacted by these issues and to learn from their experiences. I think that is probably the thing we are most known for. We have a lot of work moving. I wouldn’t say that anything necessarily sets us apart from other grassroots orgs.

This work is important and we all have our different areas of importance and expertise. We are a small but growing grassroots organization and I’m really proud of our work and what we have accomplished.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check out?
The End of Policing by Alex Vitale is a great read that discusses the issues of law enforcement.

Do This ‘Til We Free Us by Mariame Kaba is a great resource for personal growth. Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis, literally any book written by Angela Davis is a must-read.

These are just a few of my favorites but there are so many more. I can’t think of any podcasts but I know we have gleaned a lot of information for our research from individual podcast episodes.

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