MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Multiple protests took place across Memphis Saturday. One group gathering outside of the Shelby County School Board of Education calling for money to be taken from the police department and reallocated to schools.
In total, thousands took to the streets of Memphis during yet another day of protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
And later on this evening, a group of protesters have gathered outside a downtown restaurant accused of racist behavior.
For several hours a couple dozen protesters have gathered outside the Flight restaurant which was unexpectedly closed Saturday night and this comes after the religious community held a massive rally Saturday to demand change.
Blistering heat didn’t stop local leaders in the religious community from leading hundreds of protesters on a march for police reform and equality starting at the National Civil Rights Museum and ending at Memphis City Hall.
“It’s important for us to offer up our voice as what we can believe can happen to reform policing in this nation,” said J. Lawrence Turner, senior pastor at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church.
It was the largest demonstration in more than a week since protests began in Memphis after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Three Shelby County commissioners joined in on the protests including Mickell Lowery and Eddie Jones who say they feel an added responsibility to use their positions to help bring on change.
Mickell Lowery, Shelby County Commissioner
“We have to be inspired to do something differently,” said Lowery. “You can’t let a moment like this go and then continue to do the same things over and over again. How would change come?”
“As you can see, we’ve come a long way, we’ve made some progress, however, that thing called racism still exists,” said Jones.
Later on in the evening, a smaller, separate group of protesters demonstrated outside the Flight Restaurant downtown after accusations of racism against the owner spread on social media Friday.
One man protesting claims to have a personal story with the restaurant.
Grant Gray says he was racially profiled when applying for a job and wasn’t hired despite having several years of experience. He claims his white roommate with no experience was given the job at Flight instead.
“Of course I wouldn’t want something shut down but unless there’s change mainly with ownership, management or whatever has to happen, and there’s some showing like seeing people of color in the front of the house, like seeing people of color in the front of the house which would be the servers, bartenders, things like that. We need to see that,” said Gray.
Flight was closed Saturday, a day which they would normally be open for business.
On Friday they posted a statement saying they’re taking the accusations seriously and investigating.
That statement was not enough for these protesters.
“At the end of the day we’re all in this together, we have to fight these injustices together," said protest organizer LJ Abraham. "We’re fighting on a bigger scale but we can also fight on a small scale as well.”
We reached out to an owner of Flight for a response but did not hear back.
Religious leaders from the earlier event say they plan to return to City Hall at 8:46 a.m. Tuesday to continue demanding change.
Eight minutes and 46 seconds is the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck.