Beale Street cover charge prompts federal lawsuit - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Beale Street cover charge prompts federal lawsuit

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Catron feels it's unconstitutional to charge people from walking on a public street. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) Catron feels it's unconstitutional to charge people from walking on a public street. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC) - World famous Beale Street. It's where Randle Catron runs the Beale Street Development Corporation. Catron is a member of the Beale Street Merchants Association but he is exempt from contributing to the $10 security cost for Beale Street Security.

Catron is angry at fellow members for charging a Saturday night security cover charge. So angry, he's working on a federal lawsuit.

"The majority of people that own places of business on Beale Street is what? White. Caucasians," said Catron. "The majority of the folks that are here late at night are black. Now who do you think they're targeting?"

But the association's leader Ty Agee says that theory couldn't be farther from the truth.

"It wouldn't have mattered if it would have been predominately red, black, purple, yellow, white whatever, it is just an issue that so many people are getting on the street, that's it."

Cell phone video of people taking pictures of a passed out bar patron seemed to be the last straw for merchants, who say the cover charge is needed to pay for security.

Catron feels it's unconstitutional to charge people from walking on a public street and added, "That's our tax dollars that are going on to the street, and you're going to charge folk again?"

Agee says police have told him crime has gone down since they started the cover a few weeks ago. He admits the cover charge may not be the perfect solution, but says the crowds problems have to be addressed.

"It's real easy to sit back and say we're not going to do anything because we don't want to take any heat, or you can do the right thing and try to make it better," noted Agee.

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