MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Memphis leaders are discussing public safety after armed protestors disrupted a planned drag show at the Museum of Science and History.
The Memphis Museum of Science and History, formerly known as the Pink Palace Museum, apologized after the Memphis Proud Drag Show and Dance Party was cancelled Friday night due to a protest outside.
“Apparently, there was not enough security by the event planners. So, the Memphis Police had to be called and in the interest of safety, the event had to be canceled,” said city Councilman Frank Colvett.
The demonstrators were described as being religious protesters and possible members of the Proud Boys, an extremist group whose leaders have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 riot.
The museum released a statement apologizing that the event had to be canceled “due to the presence of armed protestors.”
“I found it to be troubling that the Proud Boys or any else think that they’re the cultural police of anything that takes place in our community. They’re the ones who always talk about rights of freedom and I think that something that swings both ways,” said Councilman Martavious Jones.
We wanted to find out if a group of armed protesters can legally gather in the City of Memphis without a gun permit. Turns out, city council members said they weren’t clear on what’s allowed by state law. Tennessee lawmakers have loosened many gun restrictions in recent sessions.
“I think that based upon what the General Assembly (Tennessee General Assembly) has done, they have created a scenario where it’s anything goes. I don’t think that was in the best interest of Tennesseans,” Jones said.
But they do want to make sure that they get clarity on the legal requirements for armed organized protests in Memphis.
“I’m going to use every ounce of energy we have in terms of law enforcement, in terms of making they have the proper paperwork to assemble and make sure if they want to come to our town, that we will know about it and that the public will be safe,” Colvett said.
Some elected leaders say the demonstration at the museum, community safety, and police response will be a hot topic during Tuesday’s council meeting.
“I think a lot of our conversation tomorrow will be is how is our rapid reaction force ready to go and how can the public when they notice these groups potentially assembling notify the police department to guarantee the public safety,” Colvett said.
The Museum of Science and History has several exhibits focused on LGBTQ history this month.