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Pittsburgh Juneteenth organizers accuse officials of discriminatory practices and last-minute requirements

Pittsburgh Juneteenth organizers accuse officials of discriminatory practices and last-minute requir
Pittsburgh Juneteenth organizers accuse officials of discriminatory practices and last-minute requir 02:22

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Organizers of the upcoming Juneteenth celebration in Pittsburgh are accusing the state and the city of discriminatory practices regarding security. They also say there are last-minute requirements for vendors. 

William "B" Marshall heads up the Juneteenth Pittsburgh celebration and says he believes the powers that be are trying to sabotage this year's event by asking organizers to pay for security and for vendors to use alternative energy sources they can't afford. 

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

Backed by supporters, Marshall, who heads up the annual celebration marking the freedom of slaves two years after emancipation, says 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. We fell that the city police should be protecting Black people at Point State Park, we're a vulnerable audience and vulnerable crowd," Marshall said.

Another point of concern is vendors and what the state is asking them to do if they want to hold the event 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."

Michelle Moses of Sheri's Market says she planned on having a Juneteenth booth but claims the regulations for solar power were changed without notice. 

"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 said.   

Marshall claims that vendor solar power isn't required at other state parks and shouldn't be for Point State Park. 

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

The Pittsburgh Juneteenth celebration is set to run from June 15 to June 19. 

The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which oversees Point State Park, gave a statement saying DCNR supports celebrating Juneteenth in Pittsburgh and across the commonwealth.

The statement reads in part, 

"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. 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."

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