It Happened in Memphis: ‘Just One Broken Window’

FOX-13 anchor Mearl Purvis

Some here in Memphis remarked how during the 2020 protests and riots that convulsed the United States in May and June 2020 over George Floyd’s death, that things were fairly restrained in our city. Memphis is a city that is no stranger to violent protest as many residents remember the night Dr. King was killed in 1968, right here, just off downtown.

This year, to round out Black History Month FOX-13’s anchor Mearl Purvis relayed a report on two city activists who guided the 2020 protest in such a way that in spite of the hundreds of people on the street, only one shop window was smashed. Even that deed was not carried out by the official protest march organized by Pastor Devante Hill who was determined to “show how it could be done.”

Pastor Devante Hill

In May-June local media ran with such leaders as “Fourth Night of Peaceful Protest” and a quote that “Memphis Police Director Michael Rollings is encouraged that protest remained peaceful.”

Pastor Hill told FOX-13 he takes his cue from his mentor, civil rights activist John Lewis. He offers this opinion on the new generation of police officers: “I believe that these young ones, these millennial police officers that have not been embedded into a system or a way of thinking, I believe that they can be a catalyst for change.”

One of Pastor Hill’s associates said he was sick of getting up every morning to the news of yet another killing, yet another black mother weeping on the news. He was determined to “do it right.” Looking back at this summer in Memphis, Hill’s colleague praised “all those who came before us, our elders in the civil rights movement.”

Hill was slightly disappointed that the police initially moved in with Humvees, helicopters, barricades and tear gas but was still thankful so few people were injured in any way. “We are at a point where we can grow forward, and if we could grow forward, we can be one of the leading cities in the country.”

Mearl Purvis was convinced: “Because of this leadership Memphis was moved forward.”