Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland responded to the demonstration here Wednesday night by saying he and Memphis Police Department director Michael Rallings share the frustration of the participants.
Here is the mayor’s full statement released Thursday morning:
“I understand and share your frustration with what happened in Minneapolis and other parts of the country. Police Director Mike Rallings shares your frustration, and so do all the true police officers — men and women who put on the uniform every day to protect and serve.
All cities and police departments have a responsibility to protect citizens from harm and to fight crime.
But all of us — city governments, police departments, and the public — should expect police to protect and serve in a way that is responsible.
It’s right and understandable for people to express their frustration through peaceful protest; however, I wish last night’s protesters would have all had on masks, been six feet apart, and gone through the proper channels to ensure everyone’s safety. By not doing so, protesters and our officers were unnecessarily put at risk.
I’m proud of the Memphis Police Department and the way our officers conducted themselves last night.”
This comes after protesters shut down Union Avenue in response to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. The demonstration, which lasted more than three hours, was met with counter-protesters from the Confederate 901 group, along with dozens of police officers.
At least five protesters were arrested as a result of the demonstration.