Protesters block Germantown Parkway

By Updated: June 03, 2020 3:17 PM CT | Published: June 02, 2020 10:29 PM CT

A small group of protesters gathered at Shelby Farms on Tuesday evening chanting “black lives matter” as walkers and others used the track around Patriot Lake.

But during the evening at least two journalists with The Daily Memphian had separate confrontations with the protesters. In the second occasion, despite the photographer identifying himself with the media, a man threatened him, saying he was “not (effing) with you.” The man continually told the photographer to leave and get to his car despite being on a public street.


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Earlier in the evening, Darin Abston Jr. and others kept another Daily Memphian journalist from listening in on their conversations at Shelby Farms — a public park. That journalist was not threatened by Abston.

The protest began as sunset approached about 7 p.m. with a group of about 100 listening as Abston of Memphis People Coalition compared the clean look of Shelby Farms and the surrounding area to the blighted sections and parks in the city’s poorer neighborhoods.

“I love this world,” Abston said to the group. “I love America. We love America. We just don’t like the way America is working.”

He repeatedly said he didn’t see a single officer since his group gathered in a part of town that is predominantly white.

”If you hate a certain race you’re not American,” Abston said. “The American Dream is for every race.”

After about 30 minutes, the group began to disperse.

The group was separate from the protests that occurred in Downtown Memphis, entering its seventh night on Tuesday. In a Facebook video posted as he arrived at Shelby Farms, Abston said he is not connected with the leaders of the group downtown.

“That is a lie,” Abston said in the video of any connection. “My name is Darin Abston, and I am not here with those people. I am here as a protester and also as an activist. Also as a black man.”

After the group left Shelby Farm, they moved on the east side of Agricenter and blocked Germantown Parkway in various forms, sometimes stopping in the crosswalk, while at other times standing in the median as honking cars went by on the six-lane state highway near One & Only BBQ.

At one point they laid in the crosswalk.

“I can’t breathe,” they chanted.

It was on Germantown Parkway that one person in the group threatened the photographer, documenting the events for The Daily Memphian, telling him to leave the public street.

“Get to your car now!” the man hollered while he followed the journalist. “I’m not (effing) with you. I’ve got a whole can and I’ll unleash it now.”

 The photographer backed up and tried to explain he was a member of the media. As he did, a woman, who called the protester “Maverick”, came up and said “he’s good people. I know him.”

The man, who threatened to spray paint the photographer’s equipment if he didn’t leave, eventually was led from the scene by other protesters.

During the events at Germantown Parkway and Timber Creek protesters walked slowly through the crosswalks across the six-lane road. At times they stood in the median to let an ambulance and people who said they had a medical emergency pass.

Throughout the episode, the group chanted the name of George Floyd, the African American man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police. They also shouted “No justice, no peace” and “black lives matter.”

Their action drew response from Memphis police, who responded with at least a dozen squad cars. The officers re-directed traffic while they waited for protesters to leave. A Memphis officer got on a loudspeaker, asking the group to clear the road.

Eventually, the group moved on, clearing the intersection.

Protest on Germantown Parkway: June 2, 2020

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Darin Abston Jr. protests Shelby Farms Germantown Parkway

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