MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Police blocked a main thoroughfare in Memphis, Tennessee, after protesters gathered outside a police precinct to voice their anger at the death of a handcuffed black man during a confrontation with a white officer in Minnesota.
A racially-mixed group of more than 70 people rallied outside the precinct in Midtown Memphis then walked down Union Avenue on Wednesday night to protest the death of George Floyd.
The situation intensified later in the night, with police donning riot gear and protesters standing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of officers stationed behind a barricade.
Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired and investigations are under way in Floyd’s death Monday. A white police officer is seen on video kneeling against the neck of Floyd, who was handcuffed and complained that he could not breathe.
Standing behind metal barricades, the Memphis protesters held signs and chanted the names of other unarmed black men who have died in confrontations with police officers in the U.S. in recent years, such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Police wearing protective masks due to the new coronavirus outbreak stood in a line in the middle of the street in front of the precinct, facing the protesters. Behind the officers and another set of barricades, a white man held a sign that read “Police Lives Matter. Comply. Confederate 901.”
The area code of Memphis is 901.
Protesters later moved across the street, closer to the precinct and officers. One man with loudspeaker directed his words at a group of officers, saying “we’re here for justice.” They then walked away from the precinct, chanting “no justice, no peace.”
Memphis saw its share of protests after the death of Darrius Stewart, a 19-year-old black man who was fatally shot by a white officer during a fight at a traffic stop in July 2015.
A large protest erupted in the Memphis neighborhood of Frayser last June after U.S. Marshals fatally shot 20-year-old Brandon Webber 16 times while trying to arrest him on charges that he shot a man and stole his car.
Investigators say Webber came out of his car holding a gun when he was shot. Some officers were injured when protesters threw bricks and bottles at them after the shooting, Memphis police said.