Midtown protest ends peacefully, roadway reopened after more than five hours

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — UPDATE: (1:20 a.m.) Police removed the barricades and officers in riot gear left. A few officers remained on the scene.

UPDATE: (1:10 a.m.) A couple of dozen protesters remain outside the Walgreens and officers have fallen back from the barricades to the middle of Union Ave.

UPDATE: (12:55 a.m.) Some police officers are speaking directly with members of the crowd, listening to their stories and issues.

“I’m not a threat just because I’m black,” one man said.

UPDATE: (12:20 a.m.) Memphis Police bring in additional barricades to separate police from protesters.

UPDATE: (12:00 a.m.) Midnight in Memphis at the corner of Union Ave. and S. McLean Blvd. We’re now going on more than four hours since the peaceful protest for #BreonnaTaylor #GeorgeFloyd started at 7:25 p.m.

Protestors chant ‘No justice, no peace’ as they face a line of Memphis Police officers in riot gear.

UPDATE: (11:45 p.m.) Several dozen MPD officers lined parts of S. McLean and Union Ave. Most of the remaining protesters were on the sidewalk or the parking lot of the nearby Walgreens.

UPDATE: (11:15 p.m.) Officers in riot gear arrived just after 11 p.m. Pepper spray was deployed. FOX13 saw another protester put into handcuffs near Union Ave. and S. McLean.

Mixed emotions Wednesday night as local activists, civil rights leaders, and others in the Memphis community grapple with recent racial injustice.

Police blocked part of Union Ave. as people took to the street to protesters the death of George Floyd, the man who died in Minneapolis after an officer put a knee on his neck while he was in handcuffs.

MPD confirmed two people have been arrested.

GALLERY: Photos: Memphis citizens protest racial injustice

FOX13 talked with leaders who spoke about recent injustices and on what fighting for equality looks like in Memphis.

“We have constantly seen these traumatic events over and over again. It really creates a lasting effect,” said Amber Sherman.

George Floyd could be heard on video telling police he couldn’t breathe as people watched him take his last breath while he was pinned down by a Minneapolis officer.

“It was awful and outrageous,” Attorney Walter Bailey told FOX13. Bailey said he isn’t faulting people for how they feel right now.

“Those incidents like that challenge the morality of decent people because the first thing you see in an incident of that sort you get emotionally outraged because of the tragic nature of it and the abuse they reflect,” he said.

Because of that, people are protesting injustice even though the U.S. in the middle of a pandemic.

Activist Amber Sherman said she isn’t surprised.

“If they’re wearing masks and I think they should proceed to do so,” she said. “Anger which I think is the normal emotions they feel when they’ve seen something like that.”

Tragedy can strike anywhere but Bailey said by exercising rights like the first amendment can provoke change, as seen when four Minneapolis officers were fired following the death of Floyd.

“Protest put the heat on the police department and the attorney general’s office to take strokes and show this kind of conduct won’t be tolerated by your officers,” said Bailey.

Bailey told FOX13 your voice can also be heard online by using hashtags and joining conversations.