Pittsburgh Juneteenth Celebration Organizers Accuse City, State Of Discrimination

Organizers allege that officials are seeking to sabotage the celebration by issuing last-minute security requirements for the event,

A group of organizers for a Juneteenth celebration in Pittsburgh have accused the city of the state and of discrimination due to security requirements, CBS Pittsburgh reports. Also, they allege that they were levied with “last-minute insurance requirements” for vendors who are involved in the event which is scheduled to run from June 15 to June 19.

William "B" Marshall, who is leading the planning of the Pittsburgh Juneteenth celebration, planned for Point State Park June 16-19, said city officials are attempting to ruin the event by requesting organizers to foot the bill for security personnel and asking vendors to use “alternative energy sources” that are prohibitively expensive.

"They don't want us down here at the Point, they've been doing everything they can to restrict us," Marshall explained.

Marshall and his supporters claim that the event is being unfairly asked to pick up the tab for keeping the event safe for all involved.

"They're requiring us to pay for city police for protection, which we're totally against,” Marshall said. “We feel that the city police should be protecting Black people at Point State Park, we're a vulnerable audience and vulnerable crowd.”

Marshall also noted that the state is asking vendors to have solar generators if the event is held at Point State Park.

"They're telling the vendors they can't be in here no more unless they have solar generators," Marshall said. "Gas generators cost $45 for the weekend, a solar generator is $500 a day."

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One vendor, Michelle Moses of Sheri's Market, planned on having a booth at the Juneteenth event but the solar power requirement has made the process more stressful and complicated.

"Every year right before we come in, there's a new guideline, there's something else that's being required, and I just don't understand why," Moses explained.

According to Marshall, other state parks don’t have the solar power requirement and Point State Park should not be subject to the demand.

"We provide an economic impact of over $2 million with these three days of activities," Marshall said.

In a statement, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which oversees Point State Park, said it supports Juneteenth celebrations in Pittsburgh and across the state.

"DCNR also is responsible to ensure visitor safety in state parks and forests, and that the resources that belong to all Pennsylvanians are protected for future generations,” the statement read. “We do that through a set of guidelines that we ask all event organizers at Point to adhere to.”

"The Commonwealth has not canceled the Juneteenth celebration or fireworks at Point State Park. We are working closely with the City of Pittsburgh regarding this event, and we remain committed to working with the event organizers to provide the appropriate security and conservation measures for the event that ensure this iconic park is welcoming, safe, and conserved for all Pennsylvanians,” the statement continued.

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