Council defers resolution supporting Strut on MLK
CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WRCB) -- For decades the Bessie Smith Strut has brought food, culture and unity to the MLK neighborhood. Local businesses and vendors have voiced their opinion, they don't want to see it go.
"I think its going to be here whether the city sanctioned it or not," says business owner, Rich Heinsman.
Heinsman owns a coffee shop just off MLK Blvd, he says they've been a vendor at the Strut ever since they opened a couple years ago and don't plan on changing a thing.
"I'm glad to have it here and I"I'm willing to do my part to make sure its done right. I think the crowds are coming regardless and we'll be ready to accommodate them, hopefully feed them," says Heinsman.
"If Friends of the Festival is not going to have an event on Riverbend the night of the Strut then there's no need to direct our police force to go there. Why protect an empty space," asks Councilman Andrea McGary.
McGary is one of two council members pushing the resolution.
"So, essentially what I'm hoping to do is to give the police chief some greater footing, secure footing that if indeed he were to go to MLK he would not have in his mind any question about where the council stands," McGary says.
However, some don't see safety as the biggest issue. Nancy Crowe has attended the Strut every year but says she was mugged while walking to Riverbend.
"We got to a policeman and I told him I wanted to file a report and told him what happened. He said no that's ok and just blew it off because it was bad publicity," explains Crowe.
In the end, the community says the Strut brings more to the area than just money and if it was taken elsewhere it just wouldn't be the Bessie Smith Strut.
"This was a time where everyone can come together because it means more than just making money it means bringing people together that normally don't come together," says Councilman Russell Gilbert.
Council members unanimously supported Councilman McGary's move to delay voting for his Strut resolution one week, saying they want more answers from the ML King Merchant Association.