- Greg Cravens
About Toby Sells' post "Greensward Protest Caused 'Almost Irreparable Harm'" ...
A recent statement from the Memphis Zoo to the Flyer regarding last weekend's protest on the Greensward was filled with false insinuations, half-truths, and outright lies, and I cannot let it be disseminated to the general public without responding.
Here is a portion of the zoo's version of what transpired last Saturday: "Many families parked blocks and blocks away because they were directed by protesters acting as zoo volunteers, only to arrive to see plenty of paved parking available but blocked by protesters. Still others were unable to visit the zoo at all."
Wrong on all points.
I am a proud member of the Free Parking Brigade. I was at the corner of Galloway and McLean with my friends last Saturday, and at no point did we impersonate zoo employees. What we did was work our tails off from10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., directing cars to available parking on city streets. Most of them were from out of town, had no idea what all the fuss was about and, when told, were horrified that the zoo would park vehicles on the grass.
We must have directed over 1,000 zoo visitors to free parking, and a Memphis police officer helped them cross the busy street safely while a zoo employee stood there and took a video of us working. We probably brought in an extra $10,000 for the very zoo that seems to despise us.
Though they did stand their ground on the Greensward, it is not true that protesters blocked any zoo patrons from using paved parking.
The Memphis Zoo is held in such low regard at this point simply because they continue to be arrogant and obstinate, and issue false information through the media to support their claim to the Greensward.
It's way past time to act like a responsible adult, Chuck Brady, and join thousands of other Memphians who love their park and seek to become part of the solution to this controversial issue, and not part of the problem.
Two solutions for the zoo: It should build its own parking with the support and help of the community for funding and planning, as any other responsible community partner would. Or they can choose the path they are on: spin, pivot, and lie to avoid the inevitable. The protests will continue, and eventually people will stop coming, thus also resolving the parking problem.
I'm good with either one.
Wouldn't it be hilarious if this whole zoo parking debacle turned out to be part of the conspiracy perpetrated by the old money, East Memphis land speculators and developers to diminish the livability of Memphis proper in order to continue to fuel their ill-conceived (yet so far perfectly executed) concept of "growth"? Or, more correctly, what has been spoon-fed to us as growth but in truth has resulted in nothing more than personal gain at public expense.
You hear the argument in the news even now; it's the underlying truth behind "de-annexation" and "tax base." This phenomenon, this conspiracy, is precisely what has given us the precariously imbalanced city we all know and love, with so much economic power focused out East, while the vast majority of the city (geographically speaking) is an economic wasteland.
Either way, you can rest assured that the real forces behind this situation have little or nothing to do with the big bad zoo bullying a bunch of peaceniks. Ask yourself why so many politicians, people supposedly elected by you and me, are inexplicably siding with the zoo. Or why they seem not only deaf to reasonable compromise, but adamantly opposed to it? I'm not quite ready to watch it all go to hell just yet. I believe I shall take a stand.