Activists peacefully protest Memphis Zoo’s ‘ban list,’ say rights are being violated

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Activists are protesting a list of banned people recently discovered at the Memphis Zoo. It prevents the people listed from being allowed on the property.

A Memphis Zoo spokesperson said those people have physically or verbally interrupted the peace there in the past.

She said their goal is to provide a safe and family-friendly atmosphere, and said anyone who disrupts the day-to-day operations would be put on the list. They said everyone else is welcome.

There are two people currently on the list. One of them is activist Hunter Demster.

He said he found out about the list last week when a friend saw his name and picture in the parking booth.

Demster said he then went to the zoo to find out why he was on the list and said no one could give him an explanation.

Memphis police were then called. Demster was put in handcuffs and released without charges.

He said he thinks it's because he’s been so vocal about protecting the greensward.

Demster said it's city-owned property and his rights are being violated.

“At the end of the day, I went to the zoo on a free Tuesday and I did not go in any part of the property that any other citizen could not go," said Demster. "I did nothing wrong and they cannot prevent me from going on to public property just because they don’t want me there. I have done nothing to make them believe I’m a danger or a threat or anything else.”

After Demster's situation, a group of activists wanted to see if they'd also be put on the list for going into the zoo on Tuesday wearing 'Save the Greensward' shirts.

It’s free public entry at the zoo after 2 p.m. on Tuesdays.

"We want an explanation of the list," said Demster. "I think it’s illegal and just because we support public parks does not make us a threat. So if they’re going to add me to the list, are they going to add all these other people as well?'"

The group made it in without a problem.

Demster and the other activist named on the ban-list stayed off the zoo property on Tuesday since they were told they'd be arrested.

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