MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - At least nine protesters are facing charges after being arrested outside of Memphis City Hall Wednesday morning.
Early Wednesday Memphis Police placed bike racks as barriers and asked protesters who had been occupying Memphis City Hall Plaza for more than two weeks to leave.
“We’re going to be here until our demands are heard,” said Joey Scott, who has participated in demonstrations for more than one week.
Protesters had been camping out in front of City Hall calling for the City to defund the police and use those funds to serve the underprivileged, fund education and help those living in poverty.
“We wouldn’t be out here if the city was meeting people’s needs, the police wouldn’t be out messing with us if the city was meeting people’s needs,” said Michael Angelo Jones, protester.
A spokesperson for the city said the protesters’ removal was necessary because of a planned construction project at City Hall.
The construction project was halted back in March because of COVID-19.
Jones says Tuesday the city told protesters they would need to leave the area by 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, or they would be arrested for unlawful assembly.
More than two hours went by with multiple warnings from police, and MPD eventually started arresting protesters who were standing - arms linked - in front of the city hall entrance.
Ursula Madden, Chief Communications Officer for the city, released the following statement:
“Everyone was given sufficient time to leave or relocate. In addition to alternative protest sites, we also had representatives from Hospitality Hub onsite yesterday and this morning offering assistance and guidance on housing opportunities for anyone who may be experiencing homelessness or housing instability.”
Protesters say they plan to continue demonstrations.
“This intimidation will not work,” said Jones. “There will be larger more sustained actions. It’s clear that Mayor Strickland is afraid and the people who pulled his strings are afraid and so we’re going to keep doing what we need to do until justice is achieved.”
Many of the protesters who were arrested are scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.