MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mayor Jim Strickland announced the city of Memphis will implementing a 10 p.m. curfew beginning Monday night.
The curfew will be from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. If you are out, you could be arrested. There is an exception for essential workers and people with medical emergencies.
“We can’t let the second group steal the message to end systematic racism and take hope from those of us who love our city and want to bring meaningful and lasting change to a broken system,” Mayor Strickland said.
The curfew will last “as long as necessary,” Strickland said.
Some businesses Monday announced they were adjusting their hours in light of the curfew, among them Huey’s, Aldo’s and Summer Drive-In.
In all 31 people were arrested overnight in Memphis. Police said 44 people had been arrested since Wednesday in connection with protest events.
Police said 10 businesses had been vandalized, three police cars damaged, and shots were fired at three officers since Wednesday.
Mayor Strickland thanked the peaceful protesters who have marched in Memphis for several nights, saying he supported them and he knows there is more work to be done. But, he said, there is another group who wanted to bring destruction and chaos.
“Last night we saw things take a turn for the worst,” Strickland said, noting businesses vandalized, and shots fired at officers.
He said if people don’t like the way policing is done, the force is hiring right now. Join the force, be the change, he said.
He urged families to reach out to loved ones who are involved in the looting and assaults on police officers to have them comply with the curfew and stop that activity.
Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings says he wants to make sure the protesters can continue to be a model for the country.
“I remember some of the protesters earlier say that we want to be a model for the U.S.,” Director Rallings said. “We want to be a model for the world. Let’s continue on that path. Let’s not model negative behavior.”
Director Rallings said the Tennessee National Guard is already operating in Memphis. He released the following statement on Facebook on Monday:
“During a demonstration or protest, MPD’s lawful obligation is to provide public safety for every citizen. MPD will deny the unlawful destruction, looting, and damage to all property. MPD will not allow any disruptions in business, school, government, and everyday function of life and liberty by unruly protesters or unlawful protest.
Last night, as the night before, a peaceful protest took place in the downtown area. However, this peaceful protest appears to have accelerated as the night progressed. Some of the protesters who were initially walking were peaceful, but many who participated chose to branch off from the peaceful protest and began wreaking havoc in our city.
“What started as a peaceful protest accelerated quickly into a form of riot behavior. Participants refused to disperse from blocking roadways, they threw rocks and bottles at officers, attempted to shut down our interstate system, and they vandalized and looted businesses,” said Director Rallings. “I am extremely proud and thankful for the professionalism shown by our officers, the Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies, THP, and the National Guard. We will continue to work together throughout this process, and we will maintain order.”
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris knows about negative encounters with police first hand and is working to change the system through policies that reduce interacting between black people and police. Wednesday, he will introduce an ordinance to allow those with criminal histories to be eligible for jobs.
“I’ll bring that criminal justice reform to the county commission Wednesday,” Mayor Harris said. “I’ll continue to bring criminal justice reform to the county commission because that’s one of the ways we can reduce interactions with law enforcement and actually do something about the issue.”
Director Rallings also said one of the best ways to stop the kind of policing that we saw in Minneapolis is to become the change. He reiterated the Memphis Police Department has a huge hiring campaign happening now.