Controversy over Juneteenth cancellation

June 10, 2008 7:17:23 AM PDT
You can cancel those plans to attend this year's Juneteenth celebration in Berkeley. After 21 years, organizers have called off this year's party, and there are conflicting stories as to why.

When Juneteenth happens in Berkeley it is big, over 20,000 people attend every year. They have for 21 years on Father's Day - making it easily one of the largest festivals in the East Bay. But now word from Juneteenth organizers is, at least for this year, Juneteenth will not happen at all in Berkeley.

Berkeley city claims that fights and violence last year during Juneteenth prompted the city to require organizers this year to have more security, not hold the event on a Sunday, and to also hire an event coordinator. Berkeley city said Juneteenth organizers did not meet the new requirements.

Organizers claim something else; they say Berkeley city tried to force them to hold Juneteenth at another location.

The event celebrates when Texas slaves were freed from slavery.

Juneteenth organizers say they are trying to hold it next year. Berkeley city says that's fine as long as they abide by the new restrictions and do not hold the event on a Sunday, when police staffing is difficult.