Hundreds took to the Greensward Saturday to protest parking.
Memphis Zoo officials say zoo visitors were bullied by protesters this past weekend and that protests like it undermine the process that will likely bring the long-term solution to the Greensward parking problem.
Protesters took to the Greensward at Overton Park Saturday for an event that began as a “Greensward Play Date,” organized by the anti-parking group Get Off Our Lawn. The casual protest turned more dramatic as several protesters lay on the dirt path the zoo uses for Greensward parking and refused to move, blocking Greensward parking.
The protestors eventually struck a compromise and the zoo only used one-third of the large, grassy field for parking.
Zoo officials said the protest caused “almost irreparable harm to the zoo, to the city of Memphis, and to the very cause the protestors claim to support.” The statement said zoo visitors were “bullied, yelled at, and otherwise harassed while trying to visit the zoo” this weekend.
Zoo public relations officials were asked for comment on the situation for a story to publish in this week’s print edition of the Memphis Flyer
. They missed that deadline but issued a statement on Saturday’s protest late Monday evening.
Here’s the statement in full:
“Protests like those this weekend are, in our opinion, causing almost irreparable harm to the zoo, to the city of Memphis, and to the very cause the protesters claim to support.
We have heard from zoo visitors in person, online, and on the phone. They expressed anger, sadness, and frustration at being bullied, yelled at, and otherwise harassed while trying to visit the zoo.
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.
The zoo supports a viable, long-term solution to the parking issues. Such a solution has not yet been agreed upon in mediation. Actions like those taken this weekend undermine the mediation process and only serve to divide the community. “