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The fatal shooting of a young black man in north Memphis sparked violent protests Wednesday night that left 24 police officers and 2 journalists injured and three people arrested.
According to the Associated Press, residents in the neighborhood of Frayser threw rocks and bricks at police officers and U.S. Marshals sent in to help quell the escalating scene where about 100 people stormed the streets in anger over the U.S. marshal shooting of Brandon Webber earlier in the evening. In response to the violence, police donned riot gear and wielded batons before resorting to tear gas to break up the crowd.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, 20-year-old Webber, who was well known by local residents, was being sought by federal police for multiple felony warrants. At approximately 7 p.m., the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force pulled up to a home in Frayser where they believed the suspect was hiding, Webber was seen fleeing into a nearby vehicle.
“While attempting to stop the individual, [Webber] reportedly rammed his vehicle into the officers’ vehicles multiple times before exiting with a weapon,” the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in their official press statement regarding the shooting incident.
Webber was shot multiple times. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting.
As word of the shooting spread to the rest of the city, protesters congregated in the streets of the neighborhood. Some outraged protesters took to property damage, tearing down the concrete wall of a local business. Others vandalized police cruisers and smashed in the windows of a nearby fire station.
Memphis Police blocked off several residential streets in Frayser. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, it was around 11 p.m. that officers began to use the tear gas, dispersing the crowd for the night. Three people were arrested. Police stayed in the neighborhood through Thursday morning.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland took to Facebook to thank the city’s law enforcement for handling the situation.
“As I monitored tonight’s fatal shooting involving the U.S. Marshals, I was proud of our first responders. I’m impressed by their professionalism and incredible restraint as they endured concrete rocks being thrown at them and people spitting at them,” he wrote. “Let me be clear: The aggression shown toward our officers and deputies tonight was unwarranted.”
Tami Sawyer, the Shelby County Commissioner, took to Twitter to share a very different perspective on the violence. Sawyer, who is currently running for mayor against Strickland, asked people to consider why Frayser residents we’re so pissed off in the first place.
“Don’t judge Frayser without asking a community how it feels to mourn their youth over and over again,” Sawyer tweeted. “What do people do with their pain and trauma when it gets to be too much, when a city has ignored them, when their loss is too great and they can no longer yell at the sky?”
Sawyer, who drove over to the scene of the protests Wednesday night, estimated nearly 300 people showed up to demonstrate.
“Every life lost should matter…every single one,” she tweeted. “How many times will this be ok? It cannot continue to be.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the investigation is still ongoing.
Cover: A man identified as Sonny Webber, right, father of Brandon Webber who was reportedly shot by U.S. Marshals earlier in the evening, joins a standoff as protesters take to the streets of the Frayser community in anger against the shooting, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian via AP)