July 11, 2016
Thousands gathered in downtown Memphis Sunday afternoon to march for justice and unity after a week of deadly shootings in the US. An estimated 4 thousand protesters marched onto the 1-40 bridge , crossing the Mississippi River. The demonstration shut down traffic for hours.
The protest was a model of unity and peace. Gang members from rival gangs tied bandanas together and held hands in a gesture of unity. Young demonstrators, many attending their first protest, were met with embraces from elders who shared memories of their marches for civil rights.
Perhaps most profound was the arrival of Interim Police Chief, Mike Rallings, who locked arms with protesters and called for 30 days of no violence in the city. Memphis is currently ranked 2nd in the nation for homicides.
There were tense moments, as protesters voiced their concerns to the interim chief, who was captured in at least one video, turning his back on to those pleas. Newly elected Memphis Mayor, Jim Strickland, the first white mayor Memphis has seen in 20 years, chose to avoid the protest. He opted instead call the protests illegal and retreat to his headquarters for a round-table meeting at his headquarters.
The mayor would later soften his stance after being rebuked by constituents and local media.
The evening ended with the Interim Police Chief, Mike Rallings joining the demonstrators in prayer. The Memphis Black Lives Matter chapter held a healing vigil with Blue Lives Matter demonstrators outside of the National Civil Rights Museum earlier in the week.
Take a look at some of the tweets from Sunday’s protest in Memphis below: