NEW: Atlanta police chief shows up at protest to speak with demonstrators
In Memphis, an opportunity to air grievances, suggest changes
Demonstrations mostly peaceful, but clashes occur in some cities
Black Lives Matter protests continued Monday, resulting in more arrests and meetings between officials, movement leaders and the public.
Atlanta police arrested protesters who were blocking traffic near the upscale Lenox Square mall in they city’s Buckhead neighborhood.
Black Lives Matter held its first official march in Chicago as well.
Protesters in Atlanta came from all walks of life and it looked like they were preparing for a long night.
After making their way to the governor’s mansion, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner showed up to talk with the city’s protester leaders.
“They wanted to have a conversation with us and that’s what we’re out here to do – have a conversation,” he told reporters. “Our city is doing the right things – that’s why we’re out here. We’re out here trying to have a conversation with folks and figure out what we can do to move our police department to a better place.”
CNN affiliate WSB reports that Mayor Kasim Reed also came out to speak to protesters.
Memphis meeting follows weekend of unrest
In Memphis, Tennessee, Mayor Jim Strickland and police officials held a town-hall meeting with local movement leaders and the public at which people were able to vent frustrations on a variety of issues, including the need for community policing, better diversity training for police, equal protection for all citizens and sustained funding for youth and crime-prevention programs.
“Our babies our dying because their basketball goals are falling apart,” said Rev. DeVante Hill, who was on the panel with the mayor. “There are more empty building in this city than there are playgrounds.”
Strickland resisted pressure from the crowd and panel to announce that interim Police Department Director Mike Rallings would get the job permanently, saying only he had been a longtime admirer of his abilities.
“I’ve been impressed with Mike Rallings for years,” Strickland said during the raucous meeting. “I’ve asked him to apply for the job and I think last night we saw why I asked him to do that.”
Over the weekend, authorities, protest leaders and the mother of one of the victims have appealed for calm as over 300 demonstrators, angry at the latest killings of black men by police officers, were arrested in a weekend of intense, sometimes violent nationwide protests.
Late Sunday and into Monday morning, almost 50 protesters were bundled into the back of police vans in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A handful in Atlanta were also arrested.
Then Strickland said he remained “hopeful” that his city’s peaceful protests Sunday would signal a willingness of Black Lives Matter activists and police to hold a “respectful” dialog.
“We are here to fully support those conversations – and my door has always been open,” Strickland said Sunday night in a statement after Interstate 40 for had been closed for a few hours by protestors.
“But we want to do it in a legal way, as well. Let me be clear: you can exercise your First Amendment rights without breaking the law.”
Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, one of two black men killed by police last week in separate shootings, sent a statement to media via her attorney Sunday.
“We urge all people to remain peaceful in all demonstrations throughout our community and our nation,” the statement read.
“When demonstrations become violent, it disrespects my son and his memory. Philando was a man of peace and dignity.
“I ask you to at all times remain peaceful in your expressions of concern regarding his death at the hands of the police. I promise that we will not rest until justice prevails.”
In Boston, organizers for Sunday’s demonstration announced on Facebook: “This is a peaceful protest. Please keep violence at home.”
At least 309 people have been arrested over the weekend in New York and Chicago, and in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, were shot to death by police. The killings have sparked several days of protests.
The two men’s deaths in turn spurred a lone shooter in Dallas to kill five police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Prominent activist arrested
Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, a public school administrator who is considered among the movement’s loudest voices, was among 125 people arrested Saturday night in Baton Rouge, where Alton Sterling was shot and killed last week. Another 124 protesters were arrested.
The activist was walking along a major roadway and live-streamed his arrest for obstruction on Saturday on Periscope. Another 124 protesters were arrested.
In St. Paul, about 102 protesters were arrested. They were demonstrating against the killing of Philando Castile, a school nutrition services supervisor. Last week, Castile was driving a car and was with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, when they were pulled over for a broken taillight.
Reynolds posted a Facebook video of the aftermath of Castile’s shooting. Castile told the officer he was armed and had a concealed carry permit, she said. The officer asked him for his license and registration and as he went to retrieve those items, the officer shot him multiple times, she explains as the recording continues.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr., at a press conference Sunday to explain the arrests, acknowledged a Baton Rouge officer pointed an assault weapon at protesters, but he said a supervisor immediately intervened to secure the weapon from her.
“That is being addressed by us also,” Dabadie said. “My officers are human. They are tired. They are scared.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who called the press conference, said most protests had been peaceful – with most arrests for minor offenses – and blamed outside agitators for incitements to violence.
“That will not be tolerated – we don’t operate like that in Louisiana,” Edwards said. “The best way to honor the memory of Alton Sterling, the Dallas officers and Philando Castile, is through peaceful protest.
“It is critically important that you follow the directions of law enforcement.”
More marches took place around the nation Sunday. In Boston, organizers announced on Facebook: “This is a peaceful protest. Please keep violence at home.”
In Washington, on the fourth night of protests, several hundred protesters who had marched two miles to Union Station accepted without complaint the news from organizers and police that they could not march on the Capitol without a permit.
At the rally, the Rev. Matthew Watley, of Reid Temple AME Church, said people are looking for healing after having old wounds of racism reopened by the events last week.
He also said he wants the community to work with law enforcement.
“We don’t want to be profiled as African-Americans, we also can’t profile law enforcement because the supermajority of them are trying to do the right thing,” he said.
CNN’s Sherisse Pham in Washington, Polo Sandoval, Joshua Berlinger, Ashley Fantz, Faith Robinson, Joe Sutton, Kristina Sgueglia, Greg Clary, Brynn Gingras, Lindsey MacNabb, Vivian Kuo, Kevin Bohn and Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this report.