MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Dozens of protesters associated with the Black Lives Matter movement snarled traffic outside Graceland for nearly two hours on Tuesday, using tactics designed to stay just within the letter of the law.
Memphis police tried to keep the streets clear while enforcing an ordinance requiring permits for gatherings of more than 25 people. So when 70 protesters arrived at the home of the late Elvis Presley, they split into groups of no more than 20.
Police soon detained four people for blocking Elvis Presley Boulevard, so the protesters got creative, breaking into smaller groups and staying on the move, taking turns crossing the street from sidewalk to sidewalk. Lines of cars soon stretched in both directions, and some motorists honked horns in solidarity.
And so it went for nearly two hours in the 90-degree heat, with chants of “No justice, no peace” and signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Memphis Poorest City.”
The protest comes the day after a meeting between Memphis officials and community members where movement leaders presented a list of demands to the city.
That meeting followed a protest Sunday that ended peacefully and without arrests after marchers blocked the Interstate 40 bridge, which connects Tennessee and Arkansas over the Mississippi River.
With protests spreading the country over last week’s police killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota and a black sniper’s killing of five police officers in retaliation, activists are trying to adapt their tactics.
Community activist Joe Hunter said protesters chose Graceland because it’s a prominent tourist attraction that draws money into the city.
“If you want to make noise, you do it here on a Tuesday afternoon, when tourists are taking pictures,” Hunter said.