City Council reviewing Beale Street security after recent violence

Photo: WREG

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A stabbing on Beale Street over the weekend has reignited the debate on downtown safety and what city leaders should be doing.

Beale Street is one of our biggest tourism attractions in the state, but violence has been picking up there on recent weekends.

There was chaos on Beale Street as a fight broke out just before 3 a.m. Sunday. Police say 30-year-old Michael Thomas was charged with aggravated assault after he stabbed someone during the fight.

An affidavit says the 32-year-old victim told police he was standing in the crowd when he was punched in the face and stabbed in the lower back with a pocket knife. Someone at his house said Monday he’s recovering well.

But the incident is raising concerns for some, including City Council Chairman Berlin Boyd.

“For some reason on Saturday nights, you have some crazy incidents happen,” Boyd said. “For the last couple weekends straight, Saturday night, we’ve had issues, gang fights, we’ve had stampedes, now we’ve had a stabbing, so it does raise concerns.”

Boyd says reports of violence on Beale Street have gone up since the Beale Street Bucks program was dropped in November.

The program charged people money to enter the street after 10 p.m. on summer Saturdays, and in turn, gave them a voucher to use at local businesses.

It was removed after people said it was discriminatory.

“We have a lot of momentum in the city of Memphis, especially downtown Memphis, so we don’t want to have people thinking, ‘I can’t go to Beale Street and enjoy myself,’” Boyd said.

That’s why a task force has been researching different safety measures for the past year.

A security consultant has recommended 24 changes to Beale Street for council members to vote on. They range from changing positions of the squad cars and adding additional lighting to bringing back the controversial Beale Street Bucks.

“We’re doing what we can and hopefully we find that right mixture to make sure incidents like this don’t happen again,” Boyd said.

Some of those safety measures will be voted on by City Council on Tuesday.

WARNING: Graphic content in video.