Allyson Smith, one of the organizers of Friday's protest, lashed out against Memphis police for failing "to protect and serve" those involved in peaceful protest. (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

Angered by “vehicular assaults” on demonstrators at a Union Ave. protest Friday evening, 50-plus people spoke out in condemnation at a Monday afternoon press conference.

“These protesters will tell you how vehicles rammed into the crowd,” said Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer. “Similar incidents happened in Seattle and other cities around the country. Clearly, a call for these kinds of attacks has been made.”

Three women gave detailed accounts of being hit by “a large SUV” driven by a man they begged to stop and turn around.

“He looked right at me, and we locked eyes,” said Shiloh Grace, who was there protesting with her daughter. “I held my arms out and motioned for him to stop and turn around.

“The driver accelerated and ran into us. He was laughing, laughing,” she shouted. “Police wrote him a citation and let him go.”

The driver was identified as Anthony Marcuzzo, 19. He and Beau Albauer, 26, who also allegedly drove into the protesters, face several misdemeanors, including reckless endangerment.

The event was initially scheduled to take place on the steps of the Shelby County Courthouse, but an alternate rain location was set for the lobby of Shelby County government building.

Protesters said they asked an officer on the scene why Marcuzzo was being let go and were told “because he didn’t really hurt anyone.”

Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer said Monday’s press conference was called so protesters “could have their voices heard.” (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

People engaging in peaceful protests have been locked up and had to sit in jail for 48 hours, Sawyer said. “It is clear who Memphis police will protect and serve.”

Grace and her 16-year-old daughter, Lydia Grace, along with Erin Dempsey, talked about the terror they felt as the oncoming vehicle accelerated into the crowd. All three women, who are white, said they wanted to protect demonstrators from the onslaught.

“We were yelling, ‘Stop, Stop,’ holding our hands out for him to turn around,” said Dempsey. “But he ran into us. I was knocked off balance and caught hold of his side mirror. I was dragged for 20 feet.”

Both Dempsey and Shiloh Grace were treated at a hospital for bruising and other minor injuries.

Sawyer called the lowered flags to honor George Floyd “empty, hypocritical gestures.

“Four years ago, the same thing happened in Charlottesville, and the nation said they were changing…and here we are,” Sawyer said. “There are already mow-down laws. They need to be enacted.”

Co-organizers Allyson Smith and Jordan Dodson expressed their anger and frustration that Marcuzzo was being held to a different standard because he was a white man.

“Would a black man have been let go if he had done the same thing?” Smith asked. “He would not have been allowed to leave. Tony Marcuzzo was given a slap on the wrist, but peaceful protesters have been arrested. There is a different standard of justice for people who look like me.”

Dodson complained that initial felony charges against drivers were bumped down to misdemeanors.

According to MPD, evidence regarding the incident involving Albauer was sent to the grand jury on Monday, with a warrant subsequently issued for his arrest.

MPD, with the assistance of U.S. Marshals, took Albauer into custody at 1:45 Tuesday (June 9) morning.

Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings was called at the scene, protesters asserted, but “did not show up.”

MPD did not respond to inquiries for comment regarding arrests and treatment of Marcuzzo and Albauer.