2 arrests made during Greensward protest - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

2 arrests made during Greensward protest

Police arresting one of the Greensward protesters. (Source: WMC Action News 5) Police arresting one of the Greensward protesters. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
A pinata featuring the face of Zoo CEO Chuck Brady (Source: WMC Action News 5) A pinata featuring the face of Zoo CEO Chuck Brady (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Maureen Spain (left), Fergus Nolan (right) (Source: MPD) Maureen Spain (left), Fergus Nolan (right) (Source: MPD)
Vandalism on a Memphis Zoo sign (Source: WMC Action News 5) Vandalism on a Memphis Zoo sign (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

Two people were arrested after protesters took to the Greensward for what was supposed to be a peaceful Memorial Day picnic.

Maureen Spain, 52, and Fergus Nolan, 58, were both arrested for disorderly conduct.

Spain and Nolan were at Overton Park for a day of protesting which included food and games on what protesters call the "Occupied Greensward." 

The fight over the patch of land has lasted months, with city leaders attempting compromise between the two groups.

With many kids of out of school for the summer, beautiful weather outside, and parents off for the holiday, many families decided to visit the zoo for Animals in Action Day. When the zoo is full, it uses the Greensward as an overflow parking area.

During the protest, Greensward supporters blocked the Greensward from the zoo side. They even put up a piñata with the face of Memphis Zoo CEO Chuck Brady.

Police were on the scene and put up crime scene tape before making the arrests.

Memphis Police Department said Spain refused to move from where she was blocking traffic. Instead, she called her two sons, 9 and 12 years old, to join her. The children were sat on hot gravel where cars were attempting to drive.

Officers said the children were barefoot and were not given any water to drink. Officers said other protesters became concerned for the children; they brought a canopy and water for the children.

Officers said Spain continued to ignore their requests for her to move. When an officer attempted to detain her, she tried to run away. She now faces criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, obstructing a passageway, reckless endangerment, and resisting official detention.

Her children were released into the custody of a family member and Department of Children Services was notified.

"Well, it would be preferable if that didn't happen, but these people are trying to get our here and speak, because we don't really have a voice,” Greensward supporter Gordon Alexander said.

Alexander said he was not one of the ones blocking the Greensward from zoo patrons, but he fully supports their mission.

"There are literally thousands of people who work this issue from all different angles,” he said.

Alexander said police told them to move by 12:30, but when Spain was arrested, it was 12:26.

The protest turned out to be effective.

"Unfortunately, we had to turn a lot of people away because they couldn't find a parking place, because we did have protestors that were blocking the Greensward entrance,” Memphis Zoo spokeswoman Laura Doty said.

"People turned away, the zoo meant, ‘we're not making five bucks,’” Alexander said. “They weren't actually turned away. They parked on city streets."

Doty said the zoo’s sign on East parkway was also vandalized, although they do not know if it was a Greensward protestor. Last month, the same sign was vandalized in a similar manner.

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