MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings said Purple Haze needs to “shut down or straighten up,” a day after nine people were injured in an early-morning shooting at the notorious nightclub near Beale Street.
And while he still recommends Beale Street to friends visiting from out of town, he thinks City Council needs to act soon on a recent consultant’s report recommending tighter security in the entertainment district.
“I think we are very close to having our own Pulse nightclub shooting and I hope everyone is paying attention,” Rallings said Tuesday, referencing the 2016 terror attack at an Orlando club that killed 49 people and injured 53.
“The question I have is how many people have to be killed? How many people have to be stabbed? How many people have to be stampeded over before the city council takes action?”
“I think we are very close to having our own Pulse nightclub shooting and I hope everyone is paying attention.” – Mike Rallings
Monday morning’s violence was the latest incident at Purple Haze, which sits just off Beale Street. The club witnessed a shooting last Christmas and a woman killed just outside the club early this year, in addition to other incidents.
A warrant has been issued for a suspect in Monday morning’s shooting. The club responded Monday, saying they already had tight security measures in place, but were closing for two weeks to review those procedures.
Meanwhile on Beale Street, a man was stabbed during a fight there last month. Some City Council members say violence in the district has increased since a controversial admission fee program on Saturday nights called Beale Street Bucks was dropped.
“We already have a solution to Beale Street,” Rallings said. “We need to quit bouncing around. Beale Street Bucks work,” he said.
Council recently reviewed a list of 24 actions recommended by a consultant to keep the street safer, but only agreed to act on a few of those in a recent meeting.
Rallings urged more action from the council, and said Beale Street Bucks was successful after it was implemented in the wake of several violent incidents a few years ago.
“A lot of people have forgotten 2016. I haven’t. We just lost Officer Verdell Smith. We had stampedes and shootings. … If you think about 2016, there was a crisis. Everyone asked us to fix it and we did. Council seemed to do something different. I hope council takes action before some heinous act happens.”
On Tuesday evening, the City Council voted to bring back Beale Street Bucks. It would only apply when there’s projected crowds above 10,000.
Berlin Boyd said MPD has the final say about when it gets enacted.
As for Purple Haze, Rallings had this to say:
“If the club is not providing for the safety of its citizens, citizens should quit going. I mean a lot of these things are in the citizens’ control. You don’t have to go to a club with a problematic history. If you quit going, they will tighten up. …”
“Quit patronizing businesses that don’t care about your safety.”