2 different marches planned for Saturday in Downtown Memphis

2 different marches planned for Saturday in Downtown Memphis
Updated: Mar. 23, 2018 at 9:32 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Whether it's a fight to end gun violence in schools, or the battle to free those wrongly imprisoned, there is no better backdrop for a march than Memphis, Tennessee and the National Civil Rights Museum.

This weekend, the Bluff City is hosting two protests.

Mid-South kids are mobilized and ready to march in Memphis this Saturday, March 24. They'll be part of the nationwide "March For Our Lives" movement, taking their struggle for safer schools to the streets in coordinated marches across America.

"How are you really learning when you're worried, and watching over your back for a gunman?" asked Central High senior Hali Smith. "How are you learning when you're worried about intruders walking into the building and attacking?"

The Memphis "March For Our Lives" starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Clayborn Temple in Downtown Memphis.

Protesters will walk west on MLK Avenue (Linden Avenue) then turn left on Main Street, continuing on to the National Civil Rights Museum for a rally until noon.

More than 1,000 people have registered to take part in the protest.

"I hate that it took the loss of lives for that to happen," said Smith, "but now I'm glad we're trying to take a stand on school safety."

Downtown Memphis will play host to another march Saturday night.

Members of The Innocence Network are in town for their annual convention.  The organization is a collection of about 70 different groups whose mission is to free the wrongly convicted.

"It is unfathomable that someone can be put into prison," said Meredith Kennedy, director of The Innocence Network, "for 20, 30, sometimes 40 years for something they didn't do."

Kennedy said they've helped free 487 innocent people so far.  She calls their work the new civil rights movement.  They purposely picked Memphis for their 2018 convention to coincide with MLK50.

"We find the vast majority of folks who we exonerate," she said, "are people of color.  The theme of our convention is 'race and wrongful convictions' and we're interested in connecting that to everything Dr. King stood for.  Our march will be a solemn celebration of his spirit."

Around 225 exonerated people will lead The Innocence Network march.  It starts around 5 p.m. outside The Peabody Hotel, heads west on Union Avenue,, and then south on Main Street to the Lorraine Motel.

There will be speeches on the steps outside and a program from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. inside the museum.

"We're celebrating the fact these people are free," said Kennedy, "and really honoring the amazing memory of Dr. King."

A Memphis Police Department spokesperson said extra officers will be stationed downtown on Saturday along both protest routes.

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