Protesters: “SCORPION” deactivation isn’t enough

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On the heels of the Memphis Police Department’s announcement to deactivate its “SCORPION” unit, protesters said the department’s latest move isn’t enough.

Protesters gathered in another rally in the name of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols.

Demonstrators learned of the news from FOX13 crews on the scene.

“The SCORPION unit has been deactivated permanently. Everybody pat yourselves on the back. We just got word that the SCORPION unit has been disbanded. We have singlehandedly disbanded the SCORPION unit,” shouted one protester.

In a statement by Memphis Police:

Today, Memphis Police Officers assigned to the SCORPION Unit (Street CrimesOperations to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods) met with Chief Cerelyn ‘C.J.’ Davis to discuss the path forward for the department and the community in the aftermath of the tragic death of Tyre Nichols. In the process of listening intently to the family of Tyre Nichols, community leaders, and the uninvolved officers who have done quality work in their assignments, it is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the SCORPION Unit. While the heinous actions of a few casts a cloud of dishonor on the title SCORPION, it is imperative that we, the Memphis Police Department take proactive steps in the healing process for all impacted. The Memphis Police Department remains committed to serving our community and taking every measure possible to rebuild the trust that has been negatively affected by the death of Mr. Tyre Nichols.

Another activist, Casio Fuqua sought confirmation, inquiring with our on-site crew whether the announcement was in writing.

MPD said that officers that are currently assigned to the unit “unreservedly agree” with the steps the department is taking.

Civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci issued a statement on “SCORPION”, the unit that included the five officers who brutally beat and killed Tyre Nichols:

“The Nichols family and their legal team find the decision to permanently disband this unit to be both appropriate and proportional to the tragic death of Tyre Nichols, and also a decent and just decision for all citizens of Memphis. We hope that other cities take similar action with their saturation police units in the near future to begin to create greater trust in their communities. We must keep in mind that this is just the next step on this journey for justice and accountability, as clearly this misconduct is not restricted to these specialty units. It extends so much further.”

While the group briefly celebrated the victory, they quickly came to a consensus that MPD’s latest move wasn’t enough.

“It ain’t only the SCORPION unit, it’s OCU period,” said Fuqua. Every crime that’s been committed, looking at the stats, comes from the OCU. That’s the whole umbrella, the gang taskforce, the MGU unit. We want the OCU gone, but we are going to keep our knees on their necks.” Fuqua is referring to MPD’s gang and organized crime units.

Memphis City Council member JB Smiley called the SCORPION deactivation a mere surface-level move.

“The administration has the ability to create another unit and call it SPIDER,” Smiley told FOX13. “It’s not just the unit that needs to be disbanded. It’s the system we use to create these units that have absolutely no oversight. They essentially go out in the communities, terrorize the people and create whatever narrative they want,” Smiley said.

Protesters expounded on those additional demands.

The group told FOX13 it wants the Caucasian officer seen in the video charged.

They also demand that the names and files of everyone involved be released and that officers do away with questionable traffic stops.

This is a developing story, and we will update it as more information becomes available.