Downtown Businesses Prepared for Saturday Rally

Downtown Businesses Prepared for Saturday Rally

The rally is in an area that is normally pretty empty during the weekends. However if any violence happens it can spread, even down Main Street like it did 15 years ago. Still, shop owners say they are ready.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - There will be extra security at some downtown businesses near the KKK rally at the Shelby County Courthouse this weekend. Windows were broken during the trouble following the last Klan rally in 1998, but some business owners say they are not concerned and staying open for business this Saturday.

The rally is in an area that is normally pretty empty during the weekends. However if any violence happens it can spread, even down Main Street like it did 15 years ago. Still, shop owners say they are ready.

There is absolutely nothing around the courthouse for people to see or do. A couple of blocks up on Main Street is a different story.

Sam's Hamburgers is closed on Saturday, but that doesn't mean owner Amjad Odea isn't concerned. "Our store is all windows and it's very dangerous," he says.

In 1998 the Klan didn't get violent - the thugs did. They rioted, throwing bricks and bottles, breaking glass in the same building where Sam's Hamburgers is now located. They think they've got a good plan to keep that from happening again.

"We talked to the head of maintenance for the building and to the manager of the building and they said they'll have extra staff at the building just in case something happens. We will have a security guard on site, plus we will have extra security over here."

Right across Main Street from Sam's, Ted James owns a coffee shop. His place is always open on Saturdays. It will be open this Saturday, rain or shine, Klan or no Klan.

"It could be one of those things where not many people show up," he says. "There are some other protests we hear. It could be a big event, then just a few people. So I'm really not worried about it."

It is going to be a busy weekend in town. Memphis will still be doing its thing, Mayor A C Wharton says.

"We have other conventions in town. We have made contact with those groups. They will be personally protected. We have a bunch of young folks coming into town on another engagement and we made specific arrangements for them."

Ted James just hopes they like coffee.

Easter weekend is a busy weekend for restaurants and other places downtown. The mayor hopes to keep it that way, with the exception of the area around the Klan rally.

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