Juneteenth celebration may move from Point State Park over issues funding police required for event

PITTSBURGH — Earlier this month, Channel 11 News shared that William Marshall’s annual Juneteenth celebration would be happening at Point State Park, but now with new security requirements, he may have to move the event.

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“Nine of you voted said ‘yes this is how this tax money should be spent on William B Marshall productions’ and only he gets this money. You’re about to steal it,’” said Tony Marino, a resident and former police officer.

Residents spoke out in support of William Marshall’s annual Juneteenth celebration at a city council meeting. The celebration has been in limbo after its organizer claimed the city awarded another organization with funding that was promised to them.

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“I just want you guys to come up with some way to allocate this man his funding,” said resident and local activist Will Parker.

Last week, $125,000 was awarded to Bounce Entertainment to host the city’s Juneteenth celebration. On Tuesday, we asked Marshall if losing that funding impacted his event. He told us it was because without additional funding he can’t afford the number of officers that the state requires for the event in Point State Park.

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“Yesterday we received an email from DCNR telling us that we had to hire 10 rangers a day and an average of 15 police,” Marshall said.

Marshall said additional officers will come with a much higher price tag. He believes it will cost roughly $100,000, forcing him to move the Juneteenth event out of Point State Park.

“We are going to have to move our festival to the streets of Pittsburgh,” Marshall said.

Marshall told Channel 11 News that he plans to use Market Square and Liberty Avenue between Stanwix Street and Commonwealth Place to host the celebration, locations that he was already using in some capacity.

“If he chooses to do that we will ask him to come back to talk to us again just to ensure we have the right amount of resources,” said the Public Safety Director Lee Schmidt.

While Marshall can move the celebration, the city will also require he hire police officers in addition to his security team. According to the city’s matrix, a daily crowd size of 5,000 people requires four city officers and nine private security officers, but if that amount exceeds 5,000, the city will determine an amount.

Marshall told Channel 11 News he hasn’t made his final decision on whether to move, but he has applied for a new permit at the other location.

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