MEMPHIS, TN. Black Lives Matter’s effort to shutdown Graceland on August 15th was an utter failure due to a lack of attention, low turnout of protesters, and the weather. There were just over a 100 protesters and the Twitter hashtag #operationbluesuedeshoes did not trend on the popular social media sight. For those who prayed it would be peaceful can give their gratitude and praise to the One who makes it rain for the answer to their prayers. All can give their thanks to the Memphis Police Department for ensuring a peaceful demonstration.
Local Fox 13 News covered the protest via Livestream for over an hour. There were reports several protesters were turned away by Graceland with allegations of racial profiling. The assumption being if you’re black, then you are not an Elvis fan, but most Elvis fans can produce something to show they are fan. It could be a tattoo, a shirt, jewelry, etc. on their person to show they are an Elvis fan; not to mention number of pompadours and sideburns adoring their heads and faces. It isn’t very difficult to see who is an Elvis fan and who is not an Elvis fan regardless of skin color. Graceland/EPE, Inc. did state they did not prevent anyone from attending the Candlelight Vigil and it was the Memphis Police Department who determined who could pass through the barricades.
I am a supporter for justice and believe in the power of peaceful, public protest as a method to bring attention to an issue. So, I watched the Fox 13 Livestream covering the protest with an open mind to determine if their cause is just or simply foolishness. A few things stuck out as I watched and listened.
There was a small verbal confrontation where one of the protesters stated to another to “don’t say something you don’t have facts.” The other responded “I can say anything I want…get your monkey ass on n*****.” He then accused him of being a sellout. White people walking by and taking video or pictures were unjustly called racists. There were also shout outs for reparations which questions if the movement is really about justice or just money. If unity among the protesters is foundational to the movement you couldn’t tell because it all sounded divisive.
The protest turned out to be a disgraceful, half-hearted, disorganized attempt to bring attention to the issues affecting Black people in Memphis. Instead of persuading others to support their cause it only caused doubt for BLM’s sincerity towards the justice they seek. It all accomplished nothing except name calling, accusations, and the stupid “Who stop shit? We stop shit” chant. Really? Is this the chant BLM Memphis wants to be shouted out for the alleged injustice against Black people in their community?
There were other chants, too.
- Justice for Darrius Stewart.
- Who’s street? Our street?
- Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.
- No racists police. No justice. No peace.
- We ain’t gonna stop till people are free.
- We young, we strong, we marching all night long.
Apparently the protesters strength washed out with the rain along with their youth and stamina since it was all over by 10:00 p.m. The Candlelight Vigil continued without incident, though it rained, and the resilient Elvis fans stayed true to their cause.