Mulroy endorsed by prominent national figures in district attorney race

By , Daily Memphian Updated: July 29, 2022 11:20 AM CT | Published: July 23, 2022 4:00 AM CT

Democrat Steve Mulroy got endorsements from some well-known national figures Friday, July 22, in his bid to unseat Republican District Attorney General Amy Weirich. 

Members of Families United, a group of relatives of people who have died in incidents involving police, appeared with Mulroy at his campaign headquarters on Poplar for the announcement. 

Q&A with DA candidate Steve Mulroy

“It’s very important that we get people in positions who are for our Black and brown bodies. It has to start at the polls,” said Bianca Austin, the aunt of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by police in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2020 after they forced their way into her apartment during a drug-dealing operation. 

The endorsement of Mulroy as a progressive reformer comes against a backdrop of other such progressives nationwide facing problems. Voters recalled former San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin in June and his replacement, Brooke Jenkins, has cleaned house in the DA’s office as part of a promise to get tougher on crime and hold repeat offenders responsible. 

Weirich, who has been in office since 2011, has also pushed for accountability and has won endorsements from the Memphis Police Association and the Shelby County Deputy Sheriff’s Association. 

But those speaking Friday talked about the importance of having district attorneys who put racial justice in the foreground. 

In addition to Austin, those appearing Friday included Jacob Blake Sr., the father of Jacob Blake, 29, who was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020 by a police officer who said he believed Blake was about to stab him; Tenicka Shannon, the mother of Fred Cox, 18, who was shot by a sheriff’s deputy attending a funeral in North Carolina in 2021; and Cortez Rice, the father of Jahmari Rice, a 15-year-old killed outside his school in Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Blake Sr. highlighted what he called a particular “ethical problem” with prosecutions of Black people under Weirich. He called Memphis and Shelby County “the worst county for this misconduct in the United States.”

District Attorney candidates debate during Rotary Club lunch

Mulroy and Weirich have sparred over the best way to reduce crime in Memphis. Mulroy supports creating a conviction review unit and bail reforms, including presumed right to pretrial release.

Weirich favors a recently passed “truth in sentencing” law, which took effect July 1 and eliminated potential parole for people convicted of certain felonies.

The members of Families United flanked Mulroy as he spoke Friday about what he views as the connection between racial discrimination in the court system and “ordinary violence” on the streets. 

“The two issues are together — we need to make our system fairer so that we can make our streets safer,” Mulroy said, pointing to a graph of rising violent crime in Memphis in recent years.

Nearly a dozen other candidates for office joined Mulroy at the event, including both Democrats and nonpartisan judges who have been endorsed by the Shelby County Democratic Party.

The event closed with a speech by juvenile court judge candidate Tarik Sugarmon, who is running in what Mulroy called the most important local race after his and the county mayor.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified former San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin’s pronouns.


Steve Mulroy District Attorney Amy Weirich Breonna Taylor Families United

Shera Avi-Yonah

Shera Avi-Yonah is an enterprise freelance intern for The Daily Memphian. She has previously reported for Bloomberg News and the American Prospect.


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