Civil rights advocates say Memphians needed to speak out after death of George Floyd

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Civil rights advocates are praising the message behind Wednesday night’s protest on Union Avenue. They say it’s important for Memphians to speak out even though George Floyd’s death didn’t happen here.

Floyd, a black man, died after being restrained on the ground by police in Minnesota. Video of the incident shows a white officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck even though he tells the officer he can’t breathe.

Faith Morris is the Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer for the National Civil Rights Museum. She says it’s Memphis’s responsibility to speak out because of the city’s history with civil rights, which includes events like the I-40 bridge protest in 2016 and the sanitation workers march in 1968 led by Martin Luther King.

“We cannot just sit and watch as these things happen and not have our mark on what we feel is right and wrong,” Morris said, “When we don’t put the right pressure on folks to do the right thing then we get what we get.”

Wednesday night’s protest started peacefully, but turned violent when police clashed with demonstrators who wouldn’t disperse. Morris says that’s a shame.

“So, what’s the last thing anybody thinks about is that there was disruption last night,” Morris said, “Sometimes, you forget the whole reason that they were out there in the first place.”

At one point, Deputy Chief Sam Hines addressed the crowd and some protesters tell WREG that he genuinely listened to their message.

“Hopefully, he is talking very seriously to his officers so what’s happening around the nation is not going to happen here,” Morris said.

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