“They harass everyday residents, and they’re calling this high-level policing,” Glass said. “But it’s really just stop-and-frisk on wheels. It doesn’t matter what name you slap on it.”
Keedran Franklin, a Memphis community organizer, said Scorpion was like other specialized police units — including the county-run Multi-Agency Gang Unit — in that the officers seemed to stoke fear and distrust by the way they confronted people.
“The way they move in unmarked cars, looking like regular guys, bumping to rap music, they got on hoodies, they’re really looking the part, like they’re a part of the community, but they’re police,” Franklin said. “Then someone maybe slips up, smokes weed or doesn’t have their seat belt on or a headlight is out, and they jump out and stop them and want to go through their car.”
Only after the officers got out of their cars would people see “SCORPION” on the backs of their vests.
“They’re their own internal little gang,” Franklin added. “When they turn them loose on the streets, how does that affect ordinary citizens?”