A controversial Martin Luther King Jr. parade planned for Monday was canceled after the city of Arlington denied organizers a proper permit.
City officials announced the cancelation Thursday afternoon. They said organizers for the Toyota North Texas Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade “have not provided the required payment to cover the city's personnel and equipment costs for traffic management and event security.”
The parade’s cancellation came amid calls for a boycott since Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was named the honorary grand marshal. Many weren’t happy with the governor’s planned participation because they said his policies went against everything Dr. King stood for.
The Arlington NAACP already planned a town hall event Thursday to talk about its opposition to Gov. Abbott as honorary grand marshal before learning about the parade’s cancellation.
But city officials say the decision to deny the permit only had to do with funding and logistics and had nothing to with planned protests for the parade. They say they had been in talks with the parade organizers for months and even extended deadlines that organizers failed to meet.
Just four days out, Jay Warren with the city says they no longer feel they have the time or ability to coordinate security, traffic control and other logistics for the event because those deadlines weren't met.
“There are certain criteria along with the application that have to be met,” Warren said. “You have to have the insurance for the event as an example, which didn't come in until late. You have to have sufficient funding for the event, which did not happen.”
Winsor Barbee is the parade’s executive producer. She says they were short about $65,000 after sponsors pulled out because of the Abbott controversy and were working to replace those sponsors. She says they gave a check to the city as insurance while they were discussing concerns about the boycott when the city announced the permit had been denied.
“People got lost in Governor Abbott,” Barbee said. “And they never ever really looked at what you are doing to hurt your own community and what you're doing to hurt North Texas.”
Parade organizers say Abbott was only invited to be grand marshal because he is the governor of Texas and had nothing to do with his policies. They wished there was more dialogue and discussion between them and boycotters.
Parade organizers say the parade is on hold for now. They plan to meet with the city on Friday to decide how to move forward.
The city of Arlington has other MLK Day events that will still go on, including a day of service, an awards banquet and a step competition. But parade organizers threatened to pull their guest speakers from those events.