Baltimore Mayor demands resignation of BOPA leader after facing criticism over canceled MLK Jr. parade
BALTIMORE - Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott has demanded the resignation of the head of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, according to our media partners at The Baltimore Banner.
Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts received backlash after announcing on Thursday that the Martin Luther King Jr. parade would once again be canceled.
The BOPA said it canceled the parade to use the holiday as a "day of service."
The parade was canceled in 2021 and 2022 because of COVID-19 restrictions.
"This year, the decision was made to honor Dr. King with a day of service, in keeping with the spirit of his life and legacy," BOPA said in a statement Friday.
Now, Mayor Scott is calling out BOPA CEO Donna Drew Sawyer in a statement to The Banner.
The BOPA, in charge of organizing the parade, shifted its blame to the mayor's office, arguing it would not make a decision about "mayoral events" on its own.
"BOPA does not have the authority to, nor would we ever assume to, make unilateral decisions on mayoral events," BOPA said. "BOPA will continue to provide enthusiastic support of the mayor's civic events whenever we are called upon to do so."
Mayor Scott fired back in a letter to BOPA's board shared with the Banner.
"It has become clear that BOPA is not meeting the expectations of the city and is causing significant disappointment and frustration for the residents of Baltimore," Scott said.
Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello told WJZ that canceling the parade honoring the civil rights leader was "shameful."
He told WJZ that the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts is in violation of its contractual obligation with the Baltimore City of Baltimore.
Part of that agreement includes setting up the MLK Jr. Parade.
Costello is now planning to bring the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts leadership in front of the Ways and Means Committee, again.
"This parade is a long-standing tradition in our city," Costello said. "It's incredibly important to our residents and to our visitors and I think it's shameful what BOPA is doing."
BOPA has recently been in hot water with the Ways and Means Committee, which Costello chairs.
Last summer, the councilman said the committee striped $196,000 from their $2.6 million budget after BOPA did not host Artscape for two years.
"I thought that we sent a very clear message this summer when we made those cuts and we brought them in front of the committee twice," Costello said. "Apparently, I was mistaken. Thankfully we have the option to correct that moving forward."
Costello said he wants to cut ties with the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts.
"I'm going to be taking actions to terminate our contractual agreement with BOPA until there is leadership in place that we can work with," Costello said.
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