Memphis neighbourhood mourns local man, worries about more riots

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Reuters) – Residents of a Memphis neighbourhood worried on Friday about any repeat of violent demonstrations that erupted this week after police fatally shot a young black man.

Brandon Webber, a 20-year-old father of two, was killed by U.S. Marshals seeking to arrest him on Wednesday, prompting clashes that left 36 officers injured.

Thursday night passed quietly amid a heavy police presence in the predominantly black, working-class area of Frayser, but some locals feared there was more trouble brewing.

“It’s going to get worse,” said Darrel Johnson, an unemployed 26-year-old as he ate in a restaurant near where Webber was gunned down. “It’s going to be a tough weekend, but I really want it to be quiet and peaceful.”

Up the street from the shooting site, a few customers wandered in and out of the Sammen Food Market convenience store.

“I don’t think we are done,” said a 32-year-old hotel worker who gave his name as Michael, when asked if there would be more demonstrations to protest at Webber’s killing.

“It’s been so crazy,” he said, adding that Frayser is a tight-knit community reacting to the loss of a young man.

“We’re grieving … it’s sad,” he added.

As the temperature climbed into the 80s Fahrenheit on Friday lunchtime, the street was mostly deserted. A worker mowed a lawn as a young black man looked on from a nearby porch.

It was a different scene late Thursday, when scores of young black men gathered at sunset, sitting on and inside cars as rap music boomed from stereos and some drank beer, smoked cigarillos and talked about their frustration with law enforcement.

“The police need to come out here and show the people in the community that they are for us,” a local pastor, Kalvin Heard, said on Friday, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of his ministry, “Let’s Make God Great Again.”

Heard, 47, who said he once sold drugs and robbed victims in this neighbourhood, was setting up a speaker system to preach and pray throughout the day.

“I choose life,” he said as he checked the generator in the back of his pick-up truck.

Down the street, Bettie Stornen, 67, peeled an orange on her porch as her chained dog barked in the yard.

“What happened, I don’t know,” the retiree said, adding that she could not predict what is in store for the weekend. “But this is a quiet street.”

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Memphis; Editing by Daniel Wallis

Article source: REUTER