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Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Fed up in Memphis


After protesters had moved on, one family – the Webber family – remained at the courtyard of the National Civil Rights Museum last Saturday night. Their lingering was tethered to death of a family member killed in Memphis by U.S. Marshals a year ago.

Brandon Webber

Brandon Webber was shot 16 times last June by marshals, who said Webber posed a threat when they tried serving him with a warrant. His father, Sonny Webber, said the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis had him reliving his own family nightmare.

“Devastating to see it happen again in the way that it happened,” said Webber.

Although suffering, Webber felt compelled to show solidarity with protesters who have taken to the streets in protest as has been the case in multiple cities throughout the country.

Sonny Webber

“I can feel their family’s pain from losing a family member to people that are supposed to protect and serve,” he said.

Webber was part of a protest that began and ended at the site where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, a year many are looking back to as a point of reference for the massive and ongoing demonstrations in response to Floyd’s homicide

At  6:30 p.m., people from different cities, different ethnic and racial backgrounds and a range of ages converged on the museum site. While incensed by Floyd’s death and the way it happened, there was a collective demand that police brutality end now.

Flowing over several days, the protesters in Memphis largely have assumed a non-violent posture that contrasts with scenes elsewhere. There have been multiple arrests, a number coming after windows were smashed and some businesses looted following peaceful weekend demonstrations.

Mayor Jim Strickland, while praising the vast majority of peaceful protesters, ordered a 10 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew after the weekend spates of violence.

On Saturday afternoon, as marchers wound through parts of downtown, stopping at the I Am A Man Plaza, Jermarcus Phillips reflected on the happenings. He’d brought his young son, Malachi, who, he said, was not too young to learn what is going on in his own country.

He wants his son to adopt the posture of not judging people by their race, color or how they look. And commended Memphis protesters to mostly taking the non-violent approach “because you can’t fight fire with fire. ,,,

“You got to show people that no matter how stupid they are, you still can be who you are, you know what I’m saying, without dropping down to their level.”

Some protestors have marched numerous times before Floyd’s death demanding change and justice. And then there were first-time protesters such as Nathan Thomas.

“I’ve never really done something like this,” he said. “I’ve never really put myself out there to do something good.”

Jojo Sagala from Venezuela said the issue at the heart of the protests was a human one.

“It’s our duty as people in this country…. if we witness injustice or if there’s injustice going on, it’s our civic responsibility to be here….because everyone’s being oppressed, brown people, black people, white people.

“We’re all being oppressed.”


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