A federal class action lawsuit claims parking tickets written in downtown Memphis by the “Blue Suede Brigade” are illegal.
The Brigadiers’ job description is hospitality and safety ambassador. They are doing that, and also writing tickets summoning people to court.
The lawsuit was filed against the city of Memphis, Shelby County, and the Downtown Memphis Commission.
If you spend time downtown and you’re bound to run into the Blue Suede Brigade. You’ll see them on segues, bikes, and on foot. Their uniforms have badges; they carry protection.
“They are acting as if they were Memphis Police Department and if they were authorized to write tickets,” said attorney Murray Wells.
They aren’t police and according to Wells, they have no authority to give people parking tickets. But he says they are doing it anyway.
“They are getting ticket books from the city clerk’s office and having their own ticket books to issue summons,” said Wells.
The lawsuit claims the brigadiers are overstepping their bounds.
“It really blossomed, and this turned into this law enforcement-type agency, which it was never created to do,” said Wells.
The brigade used to just assist people downtown with tourist information. Two years ago, the program was revamped to include security. They are not just writing tickets.
“This is, ‘hey let’s make some money by ticketing cars. Let’s make that our job, and let’s call tow trucks and use the cities impound lot for this purpose,’ and that’s where the struggle comes for us,” said Wells.
The hope is that a judge will declare the ticket-issuing unconstitutional.