NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — Broadway business owners say there's a double standard on Nashville's iconic street.
They say drug dealing, illegal alcohol sales, and homeless pop-up businesses are all condoned, but they get ticketed for a simple sign promoting their business. FOX 17 News is asking: Why the disparity?
Right in the middle of all the Broadway action is plenty of illegal action too. Beer sales out of cowboy hats and coolers, and reported drug deals in broad daylight.
ALSO READ: FOX 17 News Investigates: Drug deals on Broadway?
Jason Wright, manager of Betty Boots, says about surveillance video of a guy with a pop up business on an ironing board.
“The ironing board was a drug deal right here," Wright said. "We have cameras in our breezeway and there will be two guys standing there and he'll grab a white bag and hand it to somebody and then they'll go on their way.”
A Florida tourist, Greg Harmon, flagged FOX 17 News down disgusted with what he saw. He wanted our news cameras to listen to his concerns. So we did.
“I can't deal with the despicable things I see on the streets of Nashville," Harmon said. "The point I'm trying to make is if you don't get rid of the crack heads and the meth heads and all the dope that is going on on these streets of Nashville, you're going to end up losing this beautiful city and it's going to be nothing but a third world country. It almost looks like a third world country now. I know third world country cause I was a Vietnam vet.”
Longtime downtown manager Donvan Nugent worries tourists like Harmon won't come back. He's seen it all.
“For some reason there's a reason to reach in the bottom," Nugent said. "You see little baggies of things. Whatever it's Broadway anybody who thinks there's not drug dealing going on down here you're delusional.”
And illegal beer sales even block his business door all caught on surveillance video, “Sometimes it's like they don't even hide it.”
With homeless people lined up, some holding vulgar signs and selling things they aren't supposed to on the sidewalk.
Nugent calls his recent encounter with police a double standard, “Came in and said that we had to remove our sign and it was against the law.”
Nugent is referring to the A frame business sign out front, also known as a sandwich board sign, many Broadway businesses use them.
“So, I walk outside with the officer and there were multiple vagrants holding handmade signs on cardboard with vulgar messages,” says Nugent.
FOX 17 News cameras captured this. Nugent adds, “People are literally walking around this person, but yet our sign is stopping the flow of pedestrian movement. So, I said until you move them, I’m not moving it.”
Stacy Case contacted Metro Police, which are understaffed and have made it clear they're working to get a handle on the Broadway drug issues by running undercover stings.
Two tourists overdosed and died just off Broadway this month after a night of partying there. Spokeswoman Kris Mumford said, “Going forward.. Ed Smith (business owners) should know that we’re not going to be involved with this. We’re not going to be involved with the sandwich board signs and the other guy with Joe Biden signs, you’re allowed to carry signs. We’re not going to be in the business of removing sandwich board signs. This was a one time thing.”
Still Nugent says after all he sees day in and day out down here that needs real attention, he’s concerned tourism will eventually take the hit which is why we checked back in with our Florida tourist before he left. Harmon tells us, “I'll be honest with you. I'm very disappointed right now, but I hope they can clean it up so I can come back because I love Nashville and I love country music. It's got to change.”
FOX 17 News is continuing to follow the crack down on illegal sales of drugs and alcohol on Broadway.
Last month, Metro police say they arrested five drug dealers in undercover stings.