Group Files Civil Rights Complaint Over Location Of New Police HQ

Posted at 7:42 PM, Jun 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-09 02:40:41-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Justice for Jefferson Street Coalition held a rally at the Metro Historic Courthouse to announce they have filed a civil rights complaint against the city over plans to move the new police headquarters to their neighborhood.

The suit was filed Monday against the Mayor's office, Metro Nashville Police Department and the Davidson County government.

The group claimed the proposal to move police headquarters to Jefferson Street lacked community input from the black colleges and universities, and from the residents in the area.

It also claimed the project could open the gates for another large-scale development project that would push out low income families.

The group was prepared to file the civil rights complaint to additional agencies with federal jurisdiction. 

"This is ground zero for a larger debate against displacement, gentrification and racial profiling," said Dr. Sekon Franklin. 

In addition to the civil rights complaint, the group planned to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the Metro Police "operation safer streets program," which they claim targets communities of color.

Metro Police spokesperson Don Aaron refuted the group's claim the department targets neighborhoods because of their racial make-up. 

"We are there because of crime activity, because of gang activity and because of quality of life issues going on in particular neighborhoods," he said. 

As for claims that the project didn't get much community imput, Aaron said that just wasn't the case. He said church and school leaders in the community have shown full suppport.

The project and location still needed the approval of the Metro Council to move forward. 

Some residents have complained about having criminals in and out of the location would cause problems in the neighborhood. 

"That remains our proposal. It is not set in stone. The Metro Council has not approved this project at this point, but the police department continues to believe that putting a headquarters on Jefferson Street, again not a precinct, not a jail, but an office building is best for all concerned," said Aaron. 

A spokesperson for the Mayor's office released a statement saying the new facility would be purely administrative.

"Construction of this new facility would be an economic boost for North Nashville," the statement said.  

Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson released a rendering of the new building to give the community a better feel for what was being proposed. 

The $23 million office building would house the adminstrative functions of the police department. That would include human resources, payroll, accounting and the offices of the chief and three deputy chiefs. 

There would be no jail or holding facility at the location. 

The property current houses a vacant lot.