A group of protesters stand in front of a red semi truck after stopping traffic along an interstate.
Protestors stop traffic along Riverside Drive and Crump Boulevard.  Photo by Andrea Morales for MLK50

Editor’s note: On July 26, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it will conduct a “pattern or practice” review into the Memphis Police Department.

Editor’s note: Covering protests requires different approaches and sometimes different rules. MLK50: Justice Through Journalism is committed to bearing witness and documenting history, but will follow as closely as possible the Authority Collective’s call in “Do No Harm: Photographing Police Brutality Protests.” In order to protect people from police retribution or surveillance, we avoid showing the faces of people participating in demonstrations. 

They stopped on the bridge. On the Memphis side of Interstate 55, the diverse crowd of protesters demanding justice for Tyre Nichols stood firm. Not in fear, not in agitation. Determined.

Memphians took the bridge to make an economic point. The city has Black faces leading, but Memphis is run by money, they said. Tonight, they would make that point. Tonight, they would demand change.

Protesters hold a "We Have A Police Problem" sign and a skateboard.
Photo by Brittany Brown for MLK50

The city has never burned, despite overwrought media reports of a Memphis braced for violence after the release of the one-hour video showing how the five since-fired police officers beat Nichols — worse, as the video showed us — Nichols was stomped and kicked and punched and then the officers conspired to make it his fault. 

The rage of Memphians is deep, but focused. As helicopters and a drone whirled above, organizers passed out water, some displaying yellow armbands and designated as marshalls. This wasn’t a mob. This was a strategy. 

Photos by Andrea Morales and Brittany Brown for MLK50

Where do we go from here?

Read these stories

Protect yourself

Avoid the copaganda

Want to report your encounter with police?

If you’ve experienced violence from the police or had an encounter with the Memphis Police Department that you think violated your civil rights, the U.S. Department of Justice wants to hear your story. Tell them about it here: https://civilrights.justice.gov/report/

Adrienne Johnson Martin is executive editor of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. Contact her at adrienne.martin@mlk50.com

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