MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Dozens of people came together at Impact Baptist Church in Frayser, aiming to take back their neighborhood a day after a member of their community was shot and killed as marshals tried to arrest him.
Community leaders asked for answers, and peace, as one by one any of Frayser’s most prominent community leaders spoke to a packed room. Emotions were still high after 20-year-old Brandon Webber was shot and killed by U.S. Marshals.
“Another African-American man has lost his life,” Shelby County Schools board member Stephanie Love said. “I stand before you as a black woman, a mother of two children to say that we must get this right.”
By the light of day Thursday, all seemed back to normal in Frayser, but it didn’t take long for things to escalate.
Angry crowds started congregating on the streets and sidewalks. Someone even threw a rock or brick at our news car as we drove down a neighborhood street.
But as this story gains national attention, Pastor Deandre Brown insists those inciting violence don’t represent the community, saying many don’t even live there.
“The national media has taken a story, and taken it in a direction that would make the world think that Frayser is a neighborhood of savages. But as we stand here today, we are here to prove to you that is not the case,” Brown said.
Thursday night, there was a call for patience as investigators worked, but also harsh words for city leaders whose actions, some believe, have contributed to mistrust.
“If the young man was out of order, if the young man had a weapon, if the young man caused harm to the police officer, then what happened happened and it’s a tragedy and he has to be accountable to that,” said Pastor Myron Thomas with Innovation Church. “But who holds our leadership accountable?”
State Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) released a statement saying, “The city of Memphis has again lost one of its own at the hands of those charged to protect us.”
She asked for a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened, and said the level of trust between the community and police officers had become non-existent.
“Last night’s incident adds a huge weight to the shoulders of us in government who fight to both protect the peace and justice of those we represent and to support the system we entrust to facilitate peace and justice. This cannot go on any longer,” she said.
“This incident, along with the number of others we’ve seen within just the last year will make many wonder if the trust should have ever existed or will it ever be repaired. It is time for open and honest intergovernmental discussion about what we need to do to fix this and to restore the hope and faith of our communities,” she said.
The Memphis branch of the NAACP called for a full investigation into what the group called the “murder” of Webber, and asked if there was “a better way to engage Mr. Webber once he was located.”
Love said, no matter who was right or wrong, the community needed answers.
“If Brandon was wrong, we need answers. If the U.S. Marshals were wrong, we need answers. And that’s all that we`re asking,” she said.