It’s been five years since protestors flooded the streets of downtown Memphis and took all six lanes of the Interstate-40 bridge. The protest formed days after two Black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were killed by police officers in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis.
Protestors moved from the National Civil Rights Museum to FedExForum before overtaking the bridge. Law enforcement officers showed up in riot gear, but the protest continued for several hours before ending with a promise of a meeting with elected officials.
That public meeting was a disaster. Community members spoke of poverty, the need for opportunity, and the need for police reform. The city’s response was lackluster. And in the years that have followed, not much has really changed.
As we mark the anniversary of the largest act of civil disobedience in Memphis in recent memory, here are stories that provide context and insight from those who were there.
One year later, Memphians remember the bridge protest
Monday marks the one-year anniversary of the I-40 bridge protest in downtown Memphis, and more than 80 Memphians went to Tom Lee Park Sunday to honor the protesters and the work that still needs to be done. The Memphis Coalition of Concerned Citizens, a body of almost 30 organizations formed to create a safer and […]
Remembering July 10, 2016: The day they took the bridge
On Sunday, July 10, four years ago, protesters created the most significant act of spontaneous civil disobedience in recent memory. They flooded Memphis streets, heading over a bridge that spans the Mississippi River’s rushing waters. Days after white police officers gunned down Alton Sterling, a Black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile, a […]
When A City Fails To Hear
The July 10, 2016, protest that shut down the Hernando DeSoto Bridgethrew solidarity on the streets of Memphis into sharp relief. The cityhadn’t seen spontaneous support for a cause on that scale for nearlyhalf a century. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s support of the 1968 sanitation strikes inMemphis marked the height of an era of […]
In their own words
Stories can be fragile. People can jumble them, overtake them and twist them. Told again and again, the details can be exaggerated, emphasized or erased. But the people of Memphis argue that the story of the Memphis bridge protest on July 10, 2016, is an important one. It must not be twisted. In Dr. Martin […]
‘Take it to the bridge’
MEMPHIS — July 10 marks the anniversary of the largest spontaneous act of civil disobedience in the city’s modern history. The spark: The police killings of two black men in less than 24 hours, Alton Sterling on July 5 in Louisiana and Philando Castile on July 6 in Minnesota. The kindling, though, was the generations-old resentment and rage […]