Protests escalate in Memphis overnight; business windows smashed out

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Protests over the death of George Floyd continued in Memphis last night.

As protests and riots across the nation moved into their sixth night, the protests in Memphis escalated into the early hours of the morning.

Demonstrators in Downtown Memphis began by kneeling for nine minutes, chanting “Black Lives Matter.”

As protesters began marching, police helicopters began circling the Downtown area.

Protesters marched to the Arkansas bridge, where police wearing riot gear blocked the area.

Police demanded protesters to stop. Chants echoed across Memphis: "This is what democracy looks like.”

Interstate-55 was blocked off as demonstrators tried to get on the bridge but were met with Shelby County Deputies and Memphis police.

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Protesters then marched north on I-55 at McLemore Avenue. Cheers were heard as hundreds of people marched, many of whom had locked arms in support of the movement.

Later, the march on I-55 came to a halt as protesters converged on the French Fort neighborhood near the Metal Museum and Chickasaw Heritage Park.

As the group continued to march, Humvees with troopers inside were spotted by a FOX13 crew near Front Street. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee mobilized the National Guard across the state.

Many protesters moved to the National Civil Rights Museum and marched to Beale Street. They took a moment to pass the megaphone around, giving those who had a message to share the chance to be heard.

In response to the escalation of the protest, City Hall and Memphis Police Department headquarters were boarded up against rioters.

This remained relatively peaceful; however, near the Bass Pro Shop, Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies deployed CS gas, a common riot control agent, toward a group of protesters.

The National Guard and police were set up near the I-40 bridge, and some police even carried bats. Police then fired rubber bullets at protesters.


The heavy response around the bridge was due to a 2016 demonstration, in which protesters stormed the I-40 bridge and blocked traffic for hours.

On Sunday, protesters were never able to make it to either bridge. Police deployed more CS gas as the crowd chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot!"

As the night went on, smaller groups began splitting apart. One was down Front Street toward the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

Police began demanding protesters clear the area of Court Square and North Front Street. Police yelled the demonstration would be ending in one minute and ordered the protesters to leave. When the minute was up, people scattered and multiple arrests were made.

Four people were arrested, according to police.

A group of people smashed a window at a shoe store on Main Street. No items were reported stolen.