Protest live blog: Night of protests ends peacefully, before curfew

By , Daily Memphian Updated: June 07, 2020 9:39 PM CT | Published: June 06, 2020 3:17 PM CT

Protests began early Saturday with two events (one was billed as a rally) occurring in Collierville. 


Overton Park protest

6:46 PM CT, June 6

“I don’t want them to run us over. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. Pay attention to your surroundings. Call out if you see anything,” organizer L.J. Abraham said to roughly 100 protesters, part of a growing group that gathered near the southern end of Overton Park, near Poplar Avenue, at 6:30 p.m.

Abraham is referencing a protest march the night before through Midtown neighborhoods Overton Square and Cooper-Young, where there were two separate incidents of drivers steering their cars into marchers, resulting in one hospital trip. (But no serious injuries.)

Dr. Joy Brooke Fairfield, a philosophy professor at Rhodes college, makes signs for protesters gathering at Overton Park. “If you take one I ask that you use it again,” Fairfield says to those looking at her work. She says it’s her seventh straight night of protest.

100-150 people are gathering near the Abe Goodman Golf Clubhouse. They plan to cut through the course and head up Cooper.

At 7 p.m., protest from Overton Park crosses Poplar, stopping traffic, and heads south down Cooper. There’s no police presence around the march yet.

Chanting “black lives matter,” a group of 200-300 protesters approaches the intersection of Cooper and Madison at Overton Square, while what appears to be a Memphis Police helicopter circles overhead. Outdoor diners at Local on the Square cheer them on.

Police have now blocked off traffic on Cooper, just north of Union.

Protest turns west, down Madison. “I need the people on the street the show us some love,” Abraham says through a bullhorn. A stopped pickup truck honks and the protesters cheer.

Protest has stopped in the middle of Overton Square again for a rest and is now headed back north on Cooper, toward Overton Park.

There have been plenty of shows of support from business owners, employees and patrons along Overton Square and Union, but unlike the previous night of marches in Midtown, no confrontations so far.

“We’re going to walk slow, we’re going to keep chanting, we’re going to keep bringing the noise,” march leader Abraham says as she slows her group to a stroll across Cooper Street on a hot, humid night.

Midtown protest is turning back into Overton Park, about an hour after it started.

“There are people with million dollar homes in this neighborhood. They don’t know what we go through. They see us on TV and think we’re going to loot their businesses. That’s not what we do. We just want to be heard. That’s what we wanted to do tonight. I know everyone is tired,” Abraham says in closing the march back at Overton Park.

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Protest at I Am A Man Plaza

6:19 PM CT, June 6

Viral comedian “Famous” Amos Brazan, known for his recurring sketch “I Bet You Won’t” is in attendance. He’s a Memphis native, but has been living in the Mississippi Delta for 15 years. He came home during the pandemic and wanted to get involved with the protest.

“I’m out here to provoke change with these people,” Brazan said. “It shows people a different side of me. Most of the time, they see me in comical (videos). To see me in this type of light shows how serious this matter is. This ain’t nothin’ to play about.”

The 35-year-old was raised in Memphis before attending Mississippi Valley State University. It was there in the Mississippi Delta where he began his career as an entertainer. Referring to protest co-organizers Frank Gottie and DeVante Hill as brothers, Brazan said he’s impressed with the multicultural array of Memphis lending to their efforts.

“I have never seen something this powerful. This actually gives me a great deal of hope, and it’s showing me that we can actually move forward together,” Brazan said.

Frank Gottie shares he’s walking into tonight’s protest with optimism after attending this afternoon’s “Prayer by the River” event in Harbor Town.

“We let all our frustrations out, prayed to God, got our minds together. Now, we’re ready to push,” he said.

He added, amid vocal criticism of Hill’s leadership by various local activists who support Black Lives Matter’s ideals, that his support isn’t exclusive to Hill’s marches — but the collective local movement.

“It’s upsetting that our people want to pick sides,” he said.“I’m a man about unity. Wherever you’re marching at, if it’s a righteous march, peaceful march, I’m going to lead with you.”He went on, “It’s not about who’s leading. It’s bigger than that. It’s about Memphis. It’s about all these stares that are dealing with police brutality.”

Jennifer Cain delivered impassioned aside prior to Hill commencing the gathering.

Her remarks were centered around the lack of support for events with the families mourning the deceased in incidents of fatal officer-involved incidents. She said, “Marching at night isn’t getting anything done!”

Instead, she asked why people in the Mid-South haven’t been there to support these families in the past. 

Hill to protesters: “You bring out here tonight, you’re letting your city know, you’re letting your family know, you’re letting your coworkers know: ‘I’m mad. I’m upset. And I’m angry that it’s high-time that we’re a part of the solution.” 

Former Memphis Tiger Will Coleman is in attendance.

Coleman, along with a group of voter registration advocates, was acknowledged by Hill before the march took to Hernando Street.

He said, aside from the inspiration to spread the message of voter participation, he wanted to respond publicly to the notion that athletes should “shut up and dribble.”

“I think it’s important to shed light on the issue at hand, and that’s equality,” Coleman said.

Coleman said experiences such as the protest remind him of his own allies, including the many white families in the Mid-South which have supported him through his basketball career.

“There are a lot of great people out there,” he said. “Once we get everyone to the level that we can be a cohesive group, that’s when we’ll start winning.”

There are about 200-300 people at the Downtown protest. 

Protesters are kneeling at BB King Blvd. at MLK Ave. Hill asked protesters to reflect on what it is like to be unable to breathe, laying on the pavement.

Protesters arrived at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Reflection Park around 7:25 for remarks.

Hill said he took two days of sabbatical to ask God to bring unity among dissenting local leadership who have had public clashes play out in social media and in the news.

He welcomed one such previously opposing voice to speak beside him. (His name was muffled.) He expresses renewed support for Hill, as their missions, he said, are the same.

Hill adds that he welcomes all of his detractors to speak on his platform. He leads the crowd in a singular chant of the word “together.”

“You’ve got to let it go,” Hill said. “Some of us have been in pain so long, traumatized so long, that we learn to function in trauma.”

“I’m broken before God,” he said, emphasizing his commitment to forgiveness before leading another enthusiastic chant of “together.”

Hill alludes often tonight to his convening with Mayor Jim Strickland. “People ask, ‘What’s next?’” he posed.

“This moment right here,” he later responds, referring to black and white Memphis demonstrating that they can work together.

Some partygoers offer applause as protesters enter Beale St. entertainment district. One woman hollers, “Thank you!” as well.

With the crowd kneeling under the “Home of the Blues” sign at Main St. at Beale. There, Hill said he and his followers are still mad about the circumstances of George Floyd’s killing. However, he said he’s focused in on a local cause, taking aim directly at the Memphis Police Department. In their response to last weekend’s protests, Hill said MPD “executed a crazy amount of violence against protesters.”

During these remarks the man identified previously as a former Hill detractor faints in the crowd. The protest comes to a halt. Hill prays over the man. Protesters who have identified themselves as medical workers come to his aid. One reports that the man has had three seizures.

The protest continues up Beale toward Front Street in order to allow an ambulance to arrive.

Protest takes an extended pause at the corners of S. Front St. and MLK Ave., near the exterior fictionalized in television’s “Bluff City Law” as the offices of community-minded attorney Elijah Strait

Protesters embark toward tunneled areas of S. Front St., singing “We ready for change,” to the tune of rapper Archie Eversole’s 2002 single “We Ready.” At the song’s conclusion, the chorus of voices incited a thunderous applause. Hill spoke earlier in the night about his approval of the support many on social media expressed when sharing viral clips of protesters singing “Amazing Grace” in the past week.

As has become customary of Hill-led protests Downtown, Memphis Police have remained present with cruisers parked ahead of the presumed protest route, preventing traffic to flow uninhibited. Meanwhile, a helicopter has continually circled the area.

Hill stops protest at S. Main and MLK Ave., standing inside the awning of a trolley station, he addresses crowd to proclaim he wants all the protesters to agree to symbolically “get on board.” He says all in attendance are proving by their participating that they all have a piece of King inside of them.

Protest returns to I Am a Man Plaza at 9:11 p.m.

Protest concludes. Hill says tomorrow’s protest will convene early at 4:30 p.m.

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See live video of Collierville protests

5:10 PM CT, June 6

The first two videos below show a group of Memphians gathered in Poplar Market Plaza in Collierville in protest against Booya’s, a restaurant that reportedly wrote “The Black People” on top of a receipt for an order by black customers.

The third video is from a gathering in W.C. Johnson Park, organized by Collierville High alumni as a peaceful event for shedding light on systemic racism in their community.

Posted by Abigail Warren on Saturday, June 6, 2020

 

Collierville informational rally

Posted by Abigail Warren on Saturday, June 6, 2020

 

Posted by Abigail Warren on Saturday, June 6, 2020

 

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Topics

George Floyd protests Black Lives Matter

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