Officers in riot gear descend on Beale Street, 201 Poplar

Further protests turn violent in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - After a peaceful protest against police brutality ended on Saturday night, chaos broke out on Beale Street and in front of 201 Poplar, with officers dressed in riot gear facing off with crowds.

BREAKING: Memphis officers in riot gear on Beale

Posted by WMC Action News 5 on Saturday, May 30, 2020

A massive police presence surrounded Beale Street around midnight, with officers blocking nearby streets off as they ordered people away from the iconic district.

Social media was flooded with video showing officers dressed in riot gear clashing with a crowd of people on Beale Street.

WMC confirmed at least one Memphis Police Department squad car had its windows smashed.

Demonstrators take to Beale Street, 201 Poplar in overnight protests
Demonstrators take to Beale Street, 201 Poplar in overnight protests (Source: WMC Action News 5)

A court document says a group of 150 rioters threw bottles, screamed at officers and refused to follow police orders to leave the area.

Just as calm returned to Beale Street, chaos shifted to 201 Poplar.

Several dozen protesters gathered across the street from the jail around 2:30 a.m.

UPDATE: The scene is now clear. BREAKING: Protesters gather outside 201 Poplar (Shelby County Jail)***WARNING: RAW VIDEO May Contain Foul language***

Posted by WMC Action News 5 on Sunday, May 31, 2020

Shelby County Sheriff's deputies dressed in riot gear lined up outside the jail, across the street from the protesters.

MPD officers were also on scene.

Protesters yelled insults at the deputies and officers.

MPD officers used loud speakers to order the crowd to leave the parking lot where they were gathered.

Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer was on scene with the protesters.

She says she watched the confrontation between police and protesters earlier on Beale Street.

"I watched it online and you know I just felt that I needed to get down there to make sure that people got home and out of 201," said Sawyer.

She helped calm the crowd, which was becoming increasingly upset.

UPDATE: The scene is now clear. BREAKING: Protesters gather outside 201 Poplar (Shelby County Jail)***WARNING: RAW VIDEO May Contain Foul language***

Posted by WMC Action News 5 on Sunday, May 31, 2020

“Memphis police have threatened to use lethal force if we don’t leave the parking lot. They have arrested our friends. We’re not leaving. Let them go,” Sawyer tweeted.

The protesters said they were at the jail to bail out their friends who had been arrested.

Sawyer said the response from law enforcement, showing up in riot gear, was unacceptable, just like she says it was during the confrontation on Beale Street and during Wednesday night's protest on Union Avenue.

“The response, the countdown, the batons, none of that was necessary nor did it restore of the relationships that has eroded between citizens and the police,” Sawyer said.

MPD left the scene and a short time later, deputies dressed in riot gear also left the scene.

The atmosphere then turned to calm.

A couple dozen people remained on the scene after authorities left, peacefully assemblying in front of the jail.

Police dispatch would not confirm any details about what happened on Beale other than "a protest." But they did say it stemmed from the protest Saturday night that ended peacefully.

They said the scene at 201 Poplar was clear by 5 a.m.

WMC reached out to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Memphis Police Department for more information. We have not yet received a response.

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