Local I-Team: Judge rules it’s illegal for Blue Suede Brigade to issue parking tickets downtown

Local I-Team

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A judge has ruled it’s illegal for the Downtown Memphis Commission’s “Blue Suede Brigade” to hand out parking tickets.

Just two months ago, a federal class action lawsuit was filed, pushing for the ticket-writing to stop. This latest ruling has to do with an earlier 2016 lawsuit over the same issue.

“One night one of them wrote me four parking tickets in a row and that’s when I went crazy,” said John Pritchard. 

Pritchard says that’s when he said enough is enough and decided to fight back, challenging whether or not the brigade could write people parking tickets. The brigade is essentially a combination job, part tourist information and part security officer.

“A state court has agreed with our position that the Blue Suede Brigade did not have the legal authority to issue parking tickets in the downtown zone,” said attorney Murray Wells. “Anyone that’s received a ticket or suffered harm – did you get your car towed, did you have to pay a ticket – what that means is those things were all done without authority.”

The brigade writes tickets in the downtown area. Pritchard says they often target people parked in alleys, as in his case.

Lawyers expect the local court’s ruling will help move the federal class action case over the same issue forward. That case is still pending.

“Who knows how many people have been affected by this. Who knows where the revenue has gone. Those are the things we’re looking at,” said Wells.

As for Pritchard, he hopes the Blue Suede Brigade will now put down the ticket books. 

“I will assume at this point the city will not have them writing anymore tickets. I guess we will see,” said Pritchard.

A spokesperson for the City of Memphis said to check with the Downtown Memphis Commission for comment. We are still waiting on a response from them.

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