Sparks fly, 7 arrested at Confederate statue protest rally - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

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Sparks fly, 7 arrested at Confederate statue protest rally

Protesters attempt to cover the statue (Source: WMC Action News 5) Protesters attempt to cover the statue (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Protesters gather at the jail (Source: WMC Action News 5) Protesters gather at the jail (Source: WMC Action News 5)
People are gathering at the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue to demand it get taken down  (Source: WMC Action News 5) People are gathering at the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue to demand it get taken down (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

Seven people were arrested Saturday after hundreds rallied to demand the removal of Confederate monuments in Memphis. 

This was one of the largest protests yet in the city, and it also proved to be the most volatile.

For the second weekend in a row in Memphis, people gathered to protest.

This time, it was a larger, more passionate group gathered at the statue of Confederate general and one of the founding members of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

The clash with police began when several people climbed the statue and attempted to cover it with a bed sheet.

Police officers pushed through protesters, who linked their arms to keep them out. Officers pulled down people and the cloth off the statue.

They then removed and arrested seven protesters and put them in the back of their cruisers.

“It was just a way to intimidate the crowd and it was completely unnecessary,” said protester Bill Stegall.

The crowd surrounded the police, not allowing their cars with arrested protesters in the back to leave the park.

Some laid down behind the cars. Officers pushed people out of the way and in some cases, physically pulled people away from the path of the cars.

“They dragged her,” said protester Antonio Cathey. “She got scrapes and cuts on her legs. That's not how you do people.”

“Officers were more rough than what they had to be,” said protester Devante Hill. “Way more rough than what they had to be.”

The police car eventually escaped the crowd and left. After a tense standoff near the street, protesters marched to 201 Poplar.

“We're here now until our people are free,” Cathey said.

Protesters said this confrontation came from years of frustration, fighting to get this statue down.

“The people are fed up,” Hill said. “They're fed up. And they're not going to keep tolerating symbols of hate.”

The fight may have gotten physical, but protesters said it’s for a cause they will continue to fight for.

Police said the seven arrested are charged with two counts of obstructing a highway or passageway, five counts of disorderly conduct, and one count of desecrating a venerated object. 

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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