Good Monday morning Memphis, where we’re basking in the cooler weather and fallout from the Memphis City Hall “blacklist” case continues.
But, first, we’re focusing on Memphis’ top cop visiting the White House.
Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis, a month into her tenure, will visit the White House Monday, according to a White House official, our Samuel Hardiman reports.
Davis, elected officials and a community violence intervention advocate are expected to meet with President Joe Biden and discuss the administration’s strategy to reduce gun crime, the White House official said.
The Associated Press reported Friday that Biden planned to meet with law enforcement leaders and elected officials Monday as part of his administration’s push to increase funding for law enforcement. The administration’s budget request to Congress includes more funding for law enforcement.
Davis’ visit to the White House follows the federal government giving Memphis more financial resources to fight crime. In June, the Biden administration announced Memphis and other cities could use stimulus funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to hire more police officers or give existing officers bonuses.
Gov. Bill Lee’s Tennessee on Me plan
In this column for subscribers, Tonyaa Weathersbee calls Gov. Bill Lee’s plan to offer $250 in travel money to 10,000 tourists misguided and says it even could put tourists in danger.
Here’s a passage from the column:
As in most places, tourists tend to be ripe targets for criminals because they tend to carry a lot of money. Many tend to relax and drink, and to let their guard down. Some may get lost in neighborhoods where they might find a carjacker before they find their destination.
While there haven’t been any recent incidents of tourists being shot in Memphis, back in April, a 23-year-old man was shot and killed in Downtown Memphis near The Peabody hotel as he was sitting in his car.
That’s an area heavily frequented by tourists, and the shooting sparked new alarms about violent crime Downtown.
Yet by signing off on a law that allows people 21 and older to carry a gun without a permit, which will invariably lead to more guns in the mix in a state in which the main cities of Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga already rank third, 18th and 20th in violent crime, Lee may have made tourists more of a mark.
Lawyer trades in office for the herb farm
The scarcity that Kenneth Anderson faced in his early life could have caused him to wither.
Instead, he blossomed, as our Tonyaa Weathersbee writes in this column for subscribers.
Anderson, a civil rights attorney, was born in the New Chicago neighborhood of North Memphis to a teenage mother. Her mother was Vera Anderson, a woman who ultimately became one of the first Black teachers to teach at a desegregated school and who raised Anderson.
Now 48, he was 41 when he met his father — and who had tracked him down.
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Fallout from City Hall ‘blacklist’ continues
A U.S. Appeals court dealt another legal blow to the city of Memphis this week in the continued fallout from the so-called Memphis City Hall “blacklist,” our Samuel Hardiman reports.
In 2017, a so-called list of 80-plus people who required an escort when inside Memphis City Hall first came to public light. That list included activists and former city employees, including Vivian Jane Umfress.
Umfress worked in the city of Memphis finance department for 33 years. She was let go in 2015 and, somehow, she was placed on the list at City Hall. When the list became public, her presence on it harmed her getting a new job, she argued in a lawsuit against the city.
A jury awarded Umfress $1.1 million in 2018, including $750,000 in damages. The city of Memphis appealed the federal court case and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled on the case Thursday, affirming the lower court’s decision.
Luxury Homes planned in Whitehaven
A new gated subdivision of luxury homes is planned in Whitehaven.
Gregory and Sherrill Walker, who own the currently vacant lot, are working in collaboration with Self + Tucker Architects on the project.
The plans feature 23 residential estate lots with no less than 3,500 square feet per home, according to a planned development request submitted to the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board. Renderings show space for a play area, trees and green space.
Hu. Hotel to open two dining options
Hu. Hotel will reopen on Aug. 12. The Downtown Memphis boutique hotel has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the area in March 2020.
While the hotel’s flagship restaurant Hu. Diner is not scheduled to reopen yet, the hotel will reopen with two dining options, our dining reporter Jennifer Chandler reports.
Tragedy strikes Memphis AAU team, coach
Kevin Hughes said his son Kross had four dreams: he wanted to be a police officer, firefighter, rapper and preacher all at once.
Hughes often questioned how the 4-year-old, whom he affectionately called “Kross the Boss,” could achieve all four of those at once. But Kross was confident he could. He reassured his dad that it would work for him, our Claire Kuwana reports.
“At 4 years old, we would have these conversations… (and he would say) ‘Well they’re gonna work for me, Dad.’ He was a real spirit,” Hughes said. “He will be truly missed.”
Born on Halloween in 2016, it was fitting that Kross loved to dress up and play pretend. The minute he arrived home from daycare, Kross would change into one of the 25 costumes he had in constant rotation, his dad said.
Hughes and his family were staying in Kissimmee, Florida, last weekend to play in a basketball tournament for older brother K’Cyn’s Memphis-based Reform Sports team, for which Hughes is one of the coaches.
Kross died after drowning in the pool at the rental home on July
Why Larry Brown decided to join Memphis Tigers
There’s not much Larry Brown hasn’t seen or experienced.
But at 80 — he’ll be 81 by the time college basketball season begins in November — the Hall of Fame coach still finds himself unpacking a 24-hour stretch unlike any he’d been through before, our Jason Munz reports in this story.
“My phone and texts have been blowing up,” Brown told The Commercial Appeal in an exclusive interview Friday afternoon. “It’s been kind of an interesting couple of days.”
On Thursday, Memphis announced Brown is joining Penny Hardaway’s coaching staff as an assistant. It’s the first time he has coached since 2018, when he spent part of one season in Italy.
Which free agents should Grizzlies target?
Last year, the Memphis Grizzlies were quiet in free agency as they chose to re-sign three players. With 15 players under contract next season, they don’t have to be major players in free agency, either, our Evan Barnes reports.
Should they decline Justise Winslow’s $13 million club option before the Aug. 1 deadline, they’ll have $22 million in cap space. However, this year’s free agent class is regarded as a weak group due to lack of big names available.
Chris Paul of Phoenix and Kawhi Leonard of the Clippers are expected to pick up their player options for their respective teams, while Mike Conley could re-sign with the Utah Jazz. Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo had surgery on the same right quadriceps that he injured in 2019.
Mark Russell is executive editor of The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at [email protected] or 901/288-4509. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MarkRussell44