In Memphis Tennessee last night, there were violent riots following the fatal shooting of a black suspect by U.S Marshals.
The Marshals, who primarily round up fugitives for the Department of Justice, had a stack of arrest warrants for 20-year-old Brandon Webber. When they tried to arrest him as he got into a vehicle outside his parent’s home, he assaulted the officers by ramming his vehicle into them then emerged brandishing an “unspecified weapon.”
Police responded by opening fire, killing Webber.
The incident occurred in the town of Frayser, a predominantly black “working-class neighborhood.” Soon after the incident there were hundreds of protestors.
Over the course of the evening the demonstration grew violent with unconfirmed reports of gunshots fired. At least 24 of the local police officers were injured along with two members of the press.
Six of the injured officers had to be taken to the hospital, though most of the other injuries were minor. Reuters is reporting that It’s “currently unknown” if any civilians were injured or arrested.
The crowd was upset over rumors that “the man had been shot by U.S. marshals more than a dozen times.”
Looking at the situation logically, the public must take into account how police officers and marshals are trained. Their response makes sense. All law enforcement training includes teaching officers to shoot until the threat stops. This is, of course, dependent on the situation and can vary widely. In most instances where a police officer fires his or her weapon, they will be shooting several rounds in quick succession.
County Commissioner Tami Sawyer, who attended the protest, was very angry at both the U.S Marshal incident and the way that local police handled the riot. Saying this on Twitter:
“The rain is the only reason the tear gas tonight didn’t permeate the entire neighborhood. I still can’t believe that move was made.”
The police was forced to use teargas, the most common method of crowd control, to dissipate the angry mob who, by then, were throwing rocks at the police, spitting on them and attacking at least one of their squad cars with a chair.
if the police didn’t use tear gas this situation could have been a lot worse, and likely more officers and bystanders would have been injured.
Memphis Police Officers going to their car to get auxiliary weapons. I’m seeing AR15’s and shotguns. pic.twitter.com/fmVdGUVDR5
— Jeremy Pierre FOX13 (@JeremypierreFOX) June 13, 2019
Mayor Jim Strickland was more reasonable, in a statement released to the press he firmly supported his men:
“Let me be clear,” he wrote, “the aggression shown toward our officers and deputies tonight was unwarranted.”
He’s right, it wasn’t even Memphis PD or any Tennessee law enforcement agency that was responsible for this shooting, yet the crowd attacked Memphis PD like they were.