Beale and Third
The task force reviewing the controversial Beale Street Bucks program is slated to have recommendations for the Memphis City Council in September.
Last year, the Downtown Memphis Commission started a $10 fee to enter Beale Street on certain Saturdays during certain times. It was a move to curb overcrowding on the street, which was blamed for two stampedes that caused injuries and property damage.
However, some said the program was racist, that it unfairly targeted Africans Americans. Last month, the council voted to suspend the program and instead institute a $5 flat fee to enter the street during those times. The council also established a task force to review the program.
Council chairman Berlin Boyd said the he’l be a member of the task force along with members of the Memphis Police Department, the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Beale Street Merchants Association, Memphis in May, and the Metropolitan Memphis Hotel and Motel Lodging Association. It’s goal, Boyd said, is to increase security on Beale Street and reduce the “exclusionary fee.”
He said the group will discuss security issues with officials in other cities. Already, Boyd said he’d talked with security officials in New Orleans about how they provide security on Bourbon Street. Crime in the French Quarter, Boyd said, was down 50 percent and that cops there use a lot of “probable-cause-type stops” for visitors smoking marijuana, for example, and the city also uses mounted patrol in the area, too.
Council member Joe Brown decried sending the issue to a task force, saying the decision ultimately rests with the council (which it does, as Boyd explained to him). However, Boyd repeated an earlier solution to the problem — “personnel.” He said he simply putting more officers on the street will improve security there.