Protests continue in Overton Square after allegations of sexist, racist culture surface against Memphis restaurant owners

Protest continue in Overton Square, driver arrested for hitting protesters

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A group of protesters were back at Overton Square Sunday night to demonstrate after allegations of a sexist and racist culture surfaced online against part of the restaurant’s ownership group.

Protesters have been at Overton Square for several hours, at first protesting in front of Porch and Parlor on the sidewalk and at one time, blocking the traffic in the intersection of Cooper and Madison.

They returned to the front of Porch and Parlor in Overton Square Sunday to demonstrate after allegations of racist and sexist behavior by one member of the ownership group were posted online.

“Why are you supporting a place that does not support you?” said protester LJ Abraham.

The group encouraged customers who were entering the restaurant to eat somewhere else, even convincing a few customers to change their plans.

Later in the night, protesters closed down the intersection of Madison and Cooper, telling drivers to turn around.

At one point, protesters got into a confrontation with the driver of a Mustang who kept driving toward protesters standing in front of their car who were telling them to turn around.

Saturday night, two protesters were hurt and a man was arrested when a truck pushed through several protesters on video after they had closed down the street.

Man detained after attempting to drive through crowd in Overton Square, police say

“People need to see us standing up for their rights the same way that my ancestors stood up for my freedom," said Rev. Regina Clarke with the Poor People’s Campaign. "And so we have to continue it, and that’s why it’s important.”

Clarke was at Overton Square Saturday night when protesters shut down the intersection.

People eating at a nearby business recorded a video of a driver of a white truck pushing through several protesters blocking the street.

“He’s literally pushing people down the street, I was standing less than 4, 5 feet away from him," she said.

William Day, 56, was arrested for reckless endangerment and reckless driving in connection with the incident.

Man arrested after attempting to drive through crowd in Overton Square
Man arrested after attempting to drive through crowd in Overton Square (Source: Shelby County Jail)

Day is known in Memphis for owning a construction company and renovating the Hunt-Phelan Mansion near downtown.

“I spent a lot of time talking to people who were just scared," said Clarke. "They were scared stiff and they were like now what do I do. And a lot of young people are trying to understand why did he do that? Why did he think that was OK?”

This comes after two men were arrested and charged for allegedly running into protesters the weekend before.

Protesters say they believe without their insistence, Day would not have been charged with a crime.

Memphis Police say that is false and officers immediately conducted an investigation.

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