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A look at differences in how Memphis Police handle different protests

"Treat black protesters the same way you treat white protesters," says community activist Rev. Earle Fisher.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis activists say all too often, African American and Black Lives Matters protestors are treated differently than other groups. They point to how KKK rallies or Confederate 901 protests have been handled in the past. They are calling on the city of Memphis and police to treat all protesters equally.

Memphis Police aren't commenting on the claim that some protesters are treated differently than others.

"Treat black protestors the same way you treat white protesters when they protest," says community activist Rev. Earle Fisher.

Fisher says he can point out time after time, there have been inequities in how the protesting groups were handled.

In 2013 during a Memphis Ku Klux Klan rally, the white supremacist group marched under police supervision. The group was allowed to set up inside the courthouse. Fencing was put up to protect them and they were surrounded by law enforcement.

In 2018 when Confederate 901 held a rolling rally, police escorted protesters cars as they drove around the interstate loop for several hours.

Fisher says when it comes to African American protesters or those supporting African American causes, activists are met with police intimidation or threatening behavior.

"You see a much more tactical police force - a much more militant police force: riot gear, threats of rubber bullets, or tear gas," says Fisher.

Legal experts say to hold a large protest in Memphis, you are required to have a permit, and groups like the KKK often pull the required paperwork and threaten legal action if they are not allowed to hold the event. In the past. Memphis police have said at organized protests, they try to create areas for separate opposing groups to keep everyone safe.

However, one Tennessee lawmaker says forget about permits or no permits - across the nation there are differences in how protesters are treated, and he points to the recent takeover of the Michigan state capital.

"Just change those guys out and make them African American that went up there and did that, and it would have been a massacre. Do you hear me? It would have been a massacre on the steps of the capital if those were African Americans doing the same thing," says TN State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, (D) Memphis.

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