City of Memphis explains why they made protesters leave City Hall

WATCH: City of Memphis explains why they made protesters leave City Hall

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — City officials told FOX13 they needed protesters to move because construction is set to begin at Memphis City Hall and the area needed to be cleared.

Officers arrived around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday to tell protesters beginning at 6 a.m. they needed to remove themselves from the area in front of Memphis City Hall. The city gave an order to protesters to clear the area by 7:30 a.m.

For the last 2 weeks or so, demonstrators had set up camp outside Memphis City Hall, protesting police brutality and issues of homelessness.

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FOX13 searched for that construction permit Wednesday and spoke with city officials.

A city spokeswoman told FOX13 a phased renovation and construction project has been underway since 2019 and that the protesters were given advanced notice to move so that crews could move needed construction equipment near the building.

FOX13 filed an open records request to get a copy of the building permit.

In the meantime, the City of Memphis did provide a timeline of the construction that’s happened this year:

  • In January, council chambers closed to begin demolition of the ceiling.
  • That continued until March when COVID-19 halted things.
  • Demolition and interior work resumed in May.
  • Now, the city said all possible demolition has been completed and scaffolding and exterior demo will happen.

That is why the city said it made the protesters move.

While the city did provide two different locations on the plaza for people to continue protesting, at least 12 people were arrested. Some had to be carried away from the plaza by police.

The two alternate protest areas include north of the fountain, or near the flag poles between City Hall and the federal building.

For up-to-the-minute updates and BREAKING ALERTS as the protests continue across our area, download the FOX13 News app. You can also follow FOX13 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.