Protest blog, Day 12: Individuals’ stories add meaning to rally

By , Daily Memphian Updated: June 08, 2020 6:38 AM CT | Published: June 07, 2020 4:22 PM CT

A grieving mother's account, and a man who says he participated in the 1968 I Am A Man march add poignancy to Sunday evening demonstrations.


200 march against systematic racism on 12th night of protests

10:43 PM CT, June 7

Colby Clark.

His name was added to those of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor on the 12th night of protests in Memphis. Kristy Clark, his mother, shared her son’s story.

“My son died June 24, 2019 as a result of gun violence,” she said. “My son was gunned down in our neighborhood (Whitehaven), which is a predominantly black neighborhood.”

Her story is one of several shared throughout the night as DeVante Hill led crowds Downtown.

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Protests end before curfew

10:37 PM CT, June 7

Protests took place across Shelby County on Sunday, June 7. Some people gathered in Collierville. Some moved along Park Avenue through Orange Mound and beyond.

 The 12th day of protests drew a slightly smaller crowd than previous nights – about 200 people moving three miles Downtown chanting as they walked.

DeVante Hill asked people to kneel at various spots throughout the night for nine minutes in honor of George Floyd who died in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Earlier Sunday Mayor Jim Strickland changed the curfew start time from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. But protests ended peacefully around 8: 30 p.m. The curfew, renewed on a daily basis by executive order, has been in effect since Monday, May 31. 

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Watch protest at I Am A Man Plaza

4:42 PM CT, June 7

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I Am A Man Plaza protest

4:33 PM CT, June 7

There are about 40 people at I Am a Man Plaza. Two Memphis Police cars are watching in the distance.

Today is supposed to be a family day so there are a few children walking around in the small crowd.

There’s another walk that started at 3:00 p.m. near Audubon Park. The crowd was encouraged to wear all black, the crowd has grown to about 60. DeVante Hill is leading today’s protest and encouraging the crowd to hydrate.

Some have brought their children with them. Hill said he wanted to make sure the ideology of racism was fought against early for families.“You’re not born racist,” he said. “You’re taught racism.”

One man addressing the crowd marched in 1968. He said some of the things marched for then are still being marched for today.

Hill has the crowd walking around I Am a Man Plaza singing Amazing Grace.

Hill is encouraging the destruction of racism in many aspects of the community including the criminal justice system, the educational system, the economic system.

The crowd is taking a knee for George Floyd as Hill addresses the crowd. He said periodically through the walk, the crowd will take a nine minute break to remember those who have lost their lives.

Hill said systematic racism must be attacked by voting and then engaging in education system talks before school starts. He says the children in Frayser should not feel less than those in Collierville.

“There needs to be great teachers in Collierville and there also needs to be great teachers in Orange Mound,” Hill said. 

Hill has the crowd engaging in an interactive activity. He said the Lord showed it to him in a dream.

“I’m telling him whatever you say,” he said.

The group has been split into four teams. The first is performing a skit showing the injustice in the education system.

The second team is showing what’s it’s like to shop as a person of color.

A person pretending to be a security guard is approaching those of color in a harsh tone.

On Hernando Street about to start marching toward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.

Hill is leading the crowd in George Floyd and “I’ve got my hands above my head, please don’t shoot me dead,” chants.

Now chanting “No justice. No peace. No racist police.”

Hill tells Memphis “y’all sound good.” The crowd is taking a knee at MLK and B.B. King.

After nine minutes, the crowd continues on Martin Luther King Avenue. They are chanting “I can’t breathe.”

The group is taking a minute to reflect in The Reflection Park.

Walking toward FedExForum. Crowd chanting “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Those racist cops have got to go” and “Hands up. Don’t shoot.”

The crowd is taking another nine minute kneel at Beale Street as Hill continues to address the crowd.

“Stop pretending your racism is patriotism,” he said.

He’s telling personal stories from his childhood. They reflect how racism affects people. He’s encouraging people to vote.

The crowd will march down Beale Street because “it is the heartbeat of Memphis,” Hill said.

Hill stops the crowd at Beale Street and Main to kneel. Some are kneeling. Some are sitting. He says names of those of those who have been killed due to police brutality.

“My heart grieves for all (police brutality deaths) that have not been recorded,” Hill said.

Walking north on Main Street. The crowd is chanting “Black Lives Matter.” Their voices are amplified by the tall buildings they are walking between.

At Main and Madison, Hill has split the crowd in half. On his cue they chant “Black lives matter.” Each side is trying to be louder than the other.

Hill says the group wants to march to City Hall, but there are barricades and the police tell the crowd to turn east on Adams. 

Two people sit outside the windows of their cars on N. Second and join in Black Lives Matter chants.

The group has made it around the block back to city hall. Officers removed some barricades so the group could gather near Civic Center Plaza.

The crowd is singing “We ready for change.” They are getting slightly louder each time.

Hill said this is not an “anti-police” movement. He said people must learn to work with police. The group waves to thank the officers at Civic Center Plaza as they begin to head back south on Main.

A mother spoke about her son, Colby Clark, who died due to police brutality in Memphis. The crowd has started chanting his name in addition to “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice No Peace.”

Hill said some powerful people in Memphis live where they are about to march.

“I want there to be such a ruckus they have to get off of their sofas,” Hill said. 

The voices are amplified under the Peabody Place trolley stop as they chant “George Floyd,” “Breonna Taylor” and “Colby Clark.”

The crowd is headed back toward I Am a Man Plaza. Walking Back down Beale Street.

The group is taking the final knee of the evening at B.B. King outside FedExForum.

A car drove up shouting where Hill had the crowd gathered. It upset the crowd. She has left, but the crowd is now shouting “drop those charges” for those who were arrested during protests.

The crowd is now singing Go Tell It on the Mountain. 

The group has returned to I Am A Man Plaza singing “We ready, we ready, we ready for change.”

Hill said tomorrow’s protest is at 6:30 p.m.

Hill talks about how other cities have had fire and looting.

“Memphis didn’t see that. Y’all give yourself a hand.”

Hill is encouraging people to come back tomorrow with a friend. The event is closing in prayer.

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Strickland pushes back start time of curfew

4:26 PM CT, June 7

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has pushed back the start of curfew Sunday evening from a 10 p.m. start to an 11 p.m. start. The curfew runs to 5 a.m. Monday. 

This is the 7th day of the curfew that was imposed by the mayor the day after 31 people were arrested in protests a week ago tonight that included windows broken at several Downtown businesses. Strickland also issued a state of civil emergency that runs through tomorrow. The curfew has been renewed on a day-to-day basis.

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Topics

I Am A Man Plaza Memphis protests

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