Merchants work on plan to fight Beale Street violence

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Merchants are working on a plan to fight violence on Beale Street, even as a brawl ended in a dozen arrests there over the weekend.

A police affidavit says the crowd grew dangerous early Sunday morning as people started yelling profanities at police and throwing bottles.

"You're talking about 33 businesses between second and fourth, and you are going to have things happen," Beale Street Merchants Association President Ty Agee said Monday. "We serve alcohol down here, and sometimes people get unruly.

Even so, Agee, the owner of Miss Polly's, says a lot of troublemakers on Beale aren't even patronizing the street's bars.

"Every one of the people this weekend, that's where it started - in the street," he said.

According to Agee, there is talk among merchants about starting a Beale Street cover fee on busy nights and weekends. The cover would be $10, but visitors would receive $8 back in the form of 'Beale Bucks.'

"At least everyone that would come down here would have to pay, and you'd know they were at least buying something on the street - not just standing around," he said. "We're just trying to be proactive."

Agee says it is just an idea, and it won't be implemented any time soon.

Sonya Jackson, a bartender at Superior Restaurant, says she would like to see more police on Beale.

There will be 5,000 people here and you won't see any police officers," she said. "You don't see the cops coming through until 2:30 in the morning saying 'Clear the streets.'"

But Agee believes police are doing a great job, saying the mounted patrol officers who quickly stepped in Sunday morning are the very reason things didn't get worse.

"I think you are as safe on Beale Street as you are anywhere else in the city," he said.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.