City leaders urge residents to avoid Confederate statue protest

Published: Jan. 5, 2018 at 8:50 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2018 at 9:46 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis leaders are encouraging residents to stay away from the planned protest by Confederate 901 supporters.

"The best reaction to their negative and hateful attempt to seek out attention, is to ignore them completely," said Deidre Malone, president of NAACP Memphis Branch.

Members of Confederate 901 plan to caravan around the city on Saturday to protest the removal of two Confederate statues last month.

Now, local leaders are urging residents not to protest on either side.

"We are here to denounce any kind of racism, bigotry, and hatred," said SCLC President Willie Womack.

"What we wanted happened; the monuments are down, so we're focused on the future. That's old news for us," Malone said.

Instead, groups like Take 'Em Down 901 are holding a day of service aimed at distracting attention away from any planned rallies.

"Memphians, if this is getting under your skin, go out and show Memphis how you care about it, and find an opportunity to serve," said Tami Sawyer with Take 'Em Down 901.

Memphis Police Department is aware and ready to keep the peace.

There is already a chain link fence around the statue base in the Health Sciences Park.

Police say they will respect people exercising their First Amendment rights in a lawful manner.

Officers will be out in force and may close down streets if there are large crowds.

"Please, we don't want that type of action in our city," Malone said. "We're working for a better Memphis, we're working to be more inclusive and not divisive."

Many activists said those who want to see more action done in the city should join organizations like the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, and more.

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