Hours-long protests leave some businesses damaged, National Guard and police respond in Downtown Memphis

Updated: Jun. 1, 2020 at 1:07 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Demonstrators took to the streets of Memphis for the fifth day in a row calling for change regarding police brutality in the U.S.

As protests progressed late Sunday night, demonstrators were met with tear gas and the National Guard arrived downtown.

A gas station on Poplar Avenue faced damage as demonstrators reportedly stole items. Officers quickly arrived on the scene to protect the store.

A display window at Winfield’s Shoes and Accessories on Main Street was shattered late Sunday night as well.

Earlier Sunday evening, a large group gathered in Downtown Memphis to protests and soon after, the group split with some demonstrators heading for the Hernando DeSoto Bridge. After a standoff with police, they headed for I-55 slowing traffic.

Just after 9 p.m., SmartWay cameras showed motorists being forced to exit at the South Parkway exit. Closures could possibly shift as the group advances.

SmartWay camera footage of I-55 amid protests
SmartWay camera footage of I-55 amid protests(WMC)

Saturday afternoon into the evening demonstrators met at the National Civil Rights Museum and peacefully marched through the downtown area chanting and kneeling -- kneeling in honor of George Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis that died while in police custody.

Video of Floyd’s death sparked national outcry and just weeks before, video of Ahmaud Arbery’s death in Georgia received national attention as well.

As earlier protests ended Saturday, things became violent as the night went on. A Memphis Police Department vehicle was damaged, officers were equipped with riot gear and some even arrived to the scene on Beale Street on horses. Several demonstrators were arrested.

Memphis Police Department Director Michael Rallings is encouraging that protests remain peaceful.

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