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'Stop killing each other' | Memphis activist reflects on Black Lives Matter protests on Juneteenth

This Juneteenth a Memphis protester says the next step for the black community is more education and rallying to keep its own youth alive.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s been two years since the Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country including here in Memphis.  

With it came a resurgence in teaching and celebrating Juneteenth. 

George Floyd Breonna Taylor weren’t widely known before they died.   

But millions will never forget their last moments.  

“The protests it impacted the city at the time,” said community activist Frank Gotti. 

Memphis witnessed 11 straight days of BLM protests along with other cities across the country.  

Gotti was there for each one.  

Two years later on Juneteenth, he’s focusing on a new challenge.

“We got so many murders and stuff going on," said Gotti. "I love Juneteenth, but it doesn’t feel like it’s juneteenth because it’s steady killings and killings.” 

Gotti is focused on violence in Memphis.

“I know that this police department tries to do all that they can do, but they got to do better.” 

MPD adopted “8 Can’t Wait” policies – some of which it already had in place – after the death of George Floyd.  

They include a ban on any kind of chokehold using de-escalation tactics, like verbal commands and exhausting all alternatives including a verbal warning before shooting a civilian. 

 Also, officers must intervene if another is using excessive force.  

”They got to learn how to relate to the street but they also have to learn how to treat people accordingly, treat people right," said Gotti. 

He said implicit bias training is also critical. This Juneteenth is a time of reflection for him.  

“Juneteenth it’s a big thing for us Black people because it’s the day we really got free. that’s the day our people celebrated that’s the day we need to start celebrating all around the world,” he said.  

The activist's turning his attention to the next generation.  

“You have to let your children know what’s going on, back in the day to present time because it’s a lot going on and our youth blind, they’re too busy, they’re seeing things but they don’t think it can happen to them.” 

So the future isn’t dying by its own hand. 

"We need to stop killing each other, we need to start reacting as a village to what’s going on in our community. People don’t say anything until it happens to one of their kids.” 

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