Pittsburgh Juneteenth Celebration organizer gets surprise notice from city

PITTSBURGH — The organizer of the Juneteenth celebration and Black Music Festival told Channel 11 he just received a surprise police notice from the city to cover the cost of security for the event.

William Marshall is expecting close to 20,000 people for this year’s WPA Juneteenth celebration. It’s a major celebration that Marshall says he’s been talking with the city about for quite some time.

“They said ok, you are going to use the youth event out at Mellon Park, you are going to do your vendor zone down here, you are going to have other activities inside the point,” explained Marshall.

Stop the Violence Pittsburgh has hosted Juneteenth celebrations throughout the City of Pittsburgh since 2013.

The notice was for more than $100,000 to cover the cost of security for the event.

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Channel 11 asked the mayor’s office about it and were told Mayor Peduto remains a staunch supporter of Juneteenth, and that last year he committed to it being an official holiday in Pittsburgh at a cost of a little more than $600,000 — in honor of the emancipation of Black Americans from slavery.

The statement from the city goes on to say:

“Without notification to the Mayor’s Office, this week, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police issued a preliminary invoice of estimated costs for emergency personnel to work the two-week event at Point State Park and other locations. These costs will be reduced greatly before they are final, and as a result of this matter, all invoices going forward will require the approval of the Public Safety Director. The City has negotiated for Mr. Marshall on his requests in support of Juneteenth.”

The city also explained in a statement that it has connected Mr. Marshall with the Pittsburgh Ballet and its sponsors to provide him a free stage at Point State Park, and reserved the city’s stage for several of Mr. Marshall’s events around the city.