A protest "ride" against the removal of the Confederate statues at two Memphis parks took place in the Bluff City on Saturday, along with other demonstrations at Health Sciences Park.
A group named Confederate 901 led the resistance “ride.” It was a protest against the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis statues from two Memphis parks.
Keep scrolling for information on Health Sciences Park and protests at that location -- along with reaction from the City of Memphis.
After meeting up at rally points across the Mid-South on Saturday morning, Confederate 901 began riding around the I-240 loop. FOX13's Jim Spiewak was embedded with the caravan.
Watch the full broadcast here. Read more about protests at Health Sciences Park below:
Confederate 901 drove around the I-240 loop for around two hours, before going to a location in Southaven to regroup. At its peak, around 50 vehicles were involved in the caravan.
The group's leader, Billy Sessions, told FOX13 Confederate 901 made a statement and did it peacefully. He said the group will drive past Health Sciences Park where the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue used to stand, and then they will disperse.
More Confederate statues stories:
- Confederate statues taken down in Memphis parks
- Where are the statues being stored, and what’s next?
- Who is Confederate 901?
- Neo-Nazi says he will help lead rally in Memphis
Another 20 demonstrators gathered at Health Sciences Park. That park, along with Memphis Park, were surrounded by yellow crime scene tape, and there were signs that read No Trespassing, No Weapons Allowed, and The Park is Closed Today.
Individuals, including white Nationalist Billy Roper, participated in that demonstration. Some held a banner that read "Diversity" = White Genocide.
FOX13's Jerrita Patterson was at Health Sciences Park. You can watch her Facebook Live video from the scene below.
The four streets bordering Health Sciences Park -- Union, Manassas, Madison and Dunlap -- were closed during the demonstration.
PROTESTS AND COUNTER-PROTESTS:
Billy Roper, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, was in Memphis. He told FOX13 he was not partnering with Confederate 901 because he is far more extreme in his views.
#TakeEmDown901, a local activist group – led by Tami Sawyer – that pushed for the removal of the statues, will not be part of a counter-protest. Instead, did not counter-protest. They volunteered and encouraged others to contribute to good causes in the city of Memphis.
Community activist Frank Gotti, who helped organize the bridge takeover in 2016, indicated he would counter-protest at Health Sciences Park, but he did not.
CITY OF MEMPHIS REACTION:
The City of Memphis, in a series of tweets, acknowledged the demonstrations and asked citizens to stay away.
We respect the right of free assembly and free speech, and we will continue to do that as it relates to the potential for demonstrations in Memphis today.— City of Memphis (@CityOfMemphis) January 6, 2018
We're already monitoring the situation and are working with all partners to ensure public safety.
Law enforcement officers are gathered at strategic points in the city. This is the Tennessee Welcome Center on Riverside Drive. pic.twitter.com/yH8wgByJEw— City of Memphis (@CityOfMemphis) January 6, 2018
MPD Director Mike Rallings discussed the Confederate 901 ride and the city's plans this morning:
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