Friday, April 1, 2016

Zoo Plans Temporary Greensward Marker for Saturday, Hires Off-Duty Cops

Posted By on Fri, Apr 1, 2016 at 4:33 PM

BRANDON DILL
  • Brandon Dill

The Memphis Zoo will place temporary stanchions on the Greensward tomorrow to mark the line of its overflow parking and has hired a few off-duty officers from the Memphis Police Department (MPD) to monitor the scene.

Many groups have planned events on the Overton Park Greensward Saturday. Some of them are in protest of the overflow parking situation and some not. See Thursday’s story about it here.

“As we mentioned yesterday, the zoo will maintain the original footprint as we park cars on an as-needed basis,” said zoo spokeswoman Laura Doty. “To provide a better divide between cars and park-goers, we'll be using temporary stanchions to increase safety for everyone.”

Doty said MPD will have a presence Saturday “as we usually do on busy weekends.” The MPD officers the zoo hired are from MPD’s special events department, she said.

MPD Interim Director Michael Rallings said he respects the Constitutional rights of citizens but he won’t allow disruption Saturday.

“The leadership of the MPD respects and welcomes the expression of First Amendment rights of all citizens in a law-abiding manner,” Rallings said in a statement. “During a public assembly or protest, MPD’s lawful obligation is to provide public safety for every citizen.

“MPD understands the history and sensitivities associated with the Overton Park Greensward; however, we will not allow the disruption of business, or the interference of a citizen’s right to enjoy the park.”

Overton Park Conservancy (OPC) officials urged protestors to avoid direct contact with cars.

“We do not have a concrete timetable for the end of the mediation process, but as it continues, we urge citizens to express their opinions about this issue in a way that is respectful of all parties,” said OPC executive director Tina Sullivan. “We’re asking that as visitors come to the park this weekend, please avoid direct conflict with cars.

“We encourage you to gather in the park, have fun, and enjoy the beautiful weather. But for your safety, we would ask that you please avoid blocking or impeding vehicles.”

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