Memphis Merchant Files Suit Over Beale St. Access Price

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Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn.

A merchant has filed a lawsuit against the city of Memphis over a $10 cover charge to enter Beale Street.

The Commercial Appeal reports that Lucille Catron filed the lawsuit Friday against the city and several other organizations, claiming that the Beale Street Bucks program's $10 charge deprives citizens of the right to stroll down the public street.

The program began in June in response to violence near the famous thoroughfare. It requires visitors to pay $10 after 10 p.m. on Saturdays. After they pass through a police barricade and pay the fee, patrons' identifications are inspected and men with metal detecting wands check them for weapons. In return, the Beale Street Bucks program gives visitors a $7 voucher to spend at Beale Street businesses.

The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages and an injunction against the program, which will continue through the end of the month.

Catron said that the program's charge amounts to double taxation for citizens.

"The whole institution of that Beale Street Bucks is unconstitutional to me," Catron said. "You are paying for the city services of Beale each and every day. You're paying for the police presence on Beale, the sheriff's office on Beale, the sanitation on Beale. Taxpayers are paying for that."

Some of the defendants named in the lawsuit didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.