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Juneteenth celebration in jeopardy after organizers billed $140,000 for security

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    PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Organizers of this year’s Juneteenth celebration say the event is in jeopardy after Pittsburgh Public Safety sent them a big bill for security.

Organizers say the $140,000 tab for police is something they can’t afford and never had to pay before.

Juneteenth, which marks the date when chattel slavery ended and the Thirteenth Amendment began, is slated for the weekend of June 19 and is expected to attract tens of thousands to downtown Pittsburgh.

“This year, we plan to have a great Juneteenth celebration because the city of Pittsburgh made Juneteenth a holiday, along with the county making Juneteenth a holiday,” said organizer Bill Marshall.

Marshall said they’ve been holding Juneteenth celebrations in Pittsburgh since 2013. It is the first time they got a huge bill for police protection.

Marshall said it is sabotage.

“If they want the $140,000, we’ll probably have to cancel,” said Marshall. “We can’t pay that. We don’t have money like that.”

In a statement from Mayor Bill Peduto, he said he is a staunch supporter of the event, pointing out that when it was made a Pittsburgh holiday, it cost the city more than $600,000. He denied sabotaging the event and said he helped organizers obtain use of the park, stages and bleachers.

As for the bill, Peduto called it a “preliminary invoice.” He said the costs will be reduced greatly.

“I’m just waiting,” Marshall said. “I’m going to give it until about Friday. If I don’t hear anything by Friday, then we’ll probably have to cancel some of these events.”

Among the things that could be canceled include a vaccination clinic for attendees and some big musical acts like the Ohio Players and Rose Royce.

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