Memphis activists reflect on one year since George Floyd’s death

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The season of discontent last year as Memphis joined cities around the nation protesting over black lives lost at the hands of police.

The death of George Floyd was fresh on everyone’s mind.

“This moment was a bit different from any other moment that we had to galvanize and march and protest,” says Memphis Activist Devante Hill.

He was leading the way as Memphis took to the streets demanding change in the way police, even here in Memphis, interact with the public.

Now, a year later, Hill told us some change has come.

“We were able to create policy changes within the Memphis Police Dept. We were able to create HR changes with the city, arbitration changes. We were able to formulate changes with CLERB,” says Hill. 

Activist Hunter Demster was also on the front lines. But a year later he doesn’t see much difference.

“In Memphis, I  don’t think there has been any substantial change because at the end of the day I think all these issues have been true systemic issues and it’s easy to try to pinpoint it onto a single officer,” says Demster. 

 But these activists think their marches and rallies did have an impact.

“I do think it made a difference. I think that it scared the powers that be,” says Demster. But the question now, after all the protests, where do things go from here?

The Civil Rights Museum is keeping the discussion of racial equality in the forefront with a virtual town hall taking the look at the state of race relationships and promises being made in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“Now its time to see what actually happened. You know corporations made promises they were gonna step up and create different things within their structures. There are actually some laws have been passed or some that are pending,” says Faith Morris with the National Civil Rights Museum.

That next step will also involve young people, many of whom have been galvanized by George Floyd’s death.

“George’s life was a sacrament that ignited a flame in the hearts of so many people regardless of their skin color,” says Hill. 

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