Tennessee National Guard members lay down shields at protester’s request
Members of the Tennessee National Guard laid down their shields at the request of peaceful protesters demonstrating at the state Capitol on Monday as part of the nationwide protests in response to George Floyd’s death.
Organizer Justin Jones asked National Guard members who had been called in in response to the demonstration to lay down their shields as the demonstrators stood on the steps of the Capitol, the Tennessean reported.
The Guard members listened and laid down their riot shields. They were met with cheers from the crowd, according to video footage reported of the scene.
“The forward movement tonight was a direct result of PEOPLE POWER,” Jones tweeted.
“Our commitment to our demands continue to demilitarize police and repeal law giving police special immunity when they kill people, esp as the president seeks to incite more violence tonight,” he added, referencing President Trump’s threat Monday to deploy U.S. Army troops to states.
The forward movement tonight was a direct result of PEOPLE POWER.
Our commitment to our demands continue to demilitarize police and repeal law giving police special immunity when they kill people, esp as the president seeks to incite more violence tonight.
Keep going, family ✊ https://t.co/Rfsf5tBpbk
— Justin Jones (@brotherjones_) June 2, 2020
The vigil for Floyd took place as the Tennessee General Assembly reconvened after suspending its session in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Tennessean. Several Democrats walked down to join demonstrators while other Democrats and Republicans watched from the Capitol balcony, the newspaper noted.
The scene of solidarity between the Guard and the demonstrators was different than others that played out across the country. In some cities, violence has flared, following days of peaceful demonstrations sparked by Floyd’s death last week in Minneapolis police custody.
Democrats blamed Trump for further fueling tensions after he threatened in a speech Monday evening to deploy U.S. troops to cities and states that do not “establish an overwhelmingly law enforcement presence.”
He was also widely criticized by Democrats for tear gas fired at a crowd of peaceful protesters outside the White House that cleared the area for the president to take a photo holding up a Bible along with his staff outside the nearby historic St. John’s EpiscopalChurch shortly after his address from the Rose Garden.
Floyd died after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes during an arrest. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers were fired but not charged.