Greensward Sees Some Saturday Sit-Ins, No Arrests

By Bill Dries

A group of about 100 people, many carrying Save The Greensward signs, turned out in Overton Park Saturday, March 5, during the first Saturday in the park since the Memphis City Council approved giving the zoo control of the northern part of the greensward for overflow parking. There were several sporadic sit-ins but no arrests.

(Daily News/Bill Dries)

Off-duty uniformed Memphis Police officers working for the zoo as well as on-duty uniformed police officers guided cars around the protesters but made no effort to arrest them.

Michael Mosby was one of a group of three people who picked their spot within an area marked off by orange safety cones for the parking.

“Our daughter had soccer practice today,” he said later. “It’s just kind of infuriating to think that half of the park is for empty cars. So we just wanted to sit down and see what happened.”

Mosby praised the police officers.

“They were very kind. They were very professional,” he said. “They allowed us to make our point and stood around us and protected us.”

The orange cones are a regular feature on the greensward during the spring and fall which is most of the 65 days a year the zoo uses the greensward for overflow park.

Over the last year, the cones have been matched on weekend mornings with the Save The Greensward signs put up by protesters.

Jenay Boggs walked her bicycle to one of the sets of cones and signs, spread out a blanket on the parking boundary and read a “Beekeeper’s Handbook” as the area within the cones filled with rows 20 cars long.

Boggs, a volunteer at the zoo, said she came “because of everything that’s happened in the last week.”

“I love the zoo. I love the park,” she added.

(Daily News/Bill Dries)

After a brief 11 a.m. lull in traffic, cars began making their way around Boggs on the other side of the cones to get to parking places on the northernmost end of the greensward.

Other cars filled in south of the gravel drive onto the greensward with rows that ended where the bushes began next to the Doughboy statue in Veterans Plaza.

Meanwhile protesters on McLean Boulevard were directing some of the zoo traffic to free on-street parking in the neighborhood on the west side of the zoo.

By 12:30 p.m., some of the cars were again being directed to open spaces in the zoo parking lot.