When 20-year-old Brandon Webber was shot dead Wednesday by U.S. Marshals serving arrest warrants, the ensuing information vacuum, along with a major police presence in the Frayser area of Memphis, fomented a violent clash between officers in riot gear and angry residents. More than 30 officers received minor injuries. Six were taken to the hospital. Three protesters were arrested.
It wasn't until Thursday afternoon that the District Attorney of DeSoto County, Miss. provided a fuller picture of the arrest. Webber allegedly went to Hernando, Miss. to purchase a car being sold on Facebook. After taking a test drive, he then shot the car's owner five times and stole the vehicle. The unnamed victim is still in the hospital.
Officials say Webber was in the stolen red Infiniti when he smashed it into marshals' vehicles while trying to escape.
Political analyst Otis Sanford says that the community's response to the officer-related shooting isn't just about this single incident. Frayser, he says, is suffering from lack of quality jobs and educational opportunities and many residents feel like they are being left behind. He says that more explanations are needed as to why so many Memphis Police were necessary Wednesday.
Sanford adds that Mayor Jim Strickland should take a closer look at the problems facing Frayser residents, while challengers to his office, such as Tami Sawyer -- who dubbed Webber's death a "murder" and criticized the use of tear gas to disperse the crowd -- should avoid using tragedies for political gain.