Black Lives Matter protesters aim to ‘Shut down Graceland’ during Elvis week

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MEMPHIS, TN - Thousands gather to remember the life and legacy of Elvis Presley. The "King of Rock and Roll" died on this day in 1977. Memphis police are took extra precautions for Black Lives Matter protests planned in Graceland on Monday.

Police say they made three arrests during a protest outside the Elvis candlelight vigil Monday night. Three people were arrested for criminal trespass. One was additionally charged with disorderly conduct and inciting riot.

Police tell WREG that Monday night's protestors were passionate, but not violent. At one point there was nearly 200 people flooding the street.

They're protesting a lack of accountability in deadly police shootings involving African Americans, a system of what they called continuing police oppression and low-paying, dead-end jobs.

"We want people who are there for any reason to enjoy their experience and let their voices be heard, or enjoy the vigil for Elvis' death," Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland tells WREG-TV.

Police Director Michael Rallings echoed the mayor's statement saying the vigil will go on for the hundreds of visitors who have traveled the world to get to Memphis.

Several people planning to attend the vigil tell WREG-TV that they were being racially profiled.

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While the group's leader said the only demonstration scheduled for is Monday, they also told FOX13 that those plans could change and it could happen anytime.

In a statement Coalition of Concerned Citizens said,

"The demonstration, set for Monday at 6:00pm, is planned as a peaceful show of solidarity, unifying the people of Memphis against systems that promote poverty, violence and economic disparity. Graceland was chosen as a protest site because it demonstrates one of Memphis’s most common forms of financial inequity and because the site has ties a prominent case of police brutality that resulted in the death of unarmed teen, Darrius Stewart.

Graceland recently opened The Guest House, a new 450 room resort style hotel in the heart of the African American community of Whitehaven. The project cost more than $120 million dollars to build and received upwards of 78 million dollars in public funding and tax breaks. Project developers and city officials promised Whitehaven residents the project would be an economic boon to the community, but as has been case for decades, residents have seen little if any of that money “trickle down” into the middle class neighborhood’s economy. This is not an uncommon story.”

It is not clear if there are more protests planned for the rest of the week.

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