Video: City’s Beer Vote Threatens Juneteenth Celebration
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — Lowndes County’s annual celebration of the end of slavery could be in jeopardy this year after politics, political disputes, moral stances and safety concerns combined to in a Columbus City Council vote.
Council members voted 5-1 Tuesday night not to allow beer sales during the 19th annual Juneteenth Festival in Sim Scott Park June 19 and 20. The festival has sold beer like Market Street and several other events for the last decade
The event marks the time at the end of the Civil War when the message reached the final groups of slaves in Texas that they’d been freed.
Lowndes County Supervisor Leroy Brooks and other organizers planned to meet Tuesday night to discuss the fate of the festival. But Brooks told WCBI after the Council meeting it couldn’t survive without revenue from beer sales. The logistics of making other arrangement for beer sale trucks from distributors and other changes might not be possible.
He said he expected an announcement Wednesday that the event will be canceled.
City Council members said a variety of issues prompted the vote. Politics played a role since Ward 4 City Councilman Marty Turner is challenging Brooks for his District 5 Supervisor’s seat in the August Democratic primary.
Ward 3’s Charlie Bo often votes against the festival beer sales on religious grounds. Ward 2’s Joseph Mickens, a minister, and Ward 1’s Gene Taylor, who may face a tough decision when he seeks a beer sale permit for his Southside Festival next month, voted against the permit in protest because Brooks and other supervisors have balked at the city’s requests concerning oversight of the new city-county gun range and changes to the E-911 board.
Ward 6’s Bill Gavin said he voted against it out of safety concerns following a daytime shooting at Sim Scott two months ago.
Only Ward 5’s Kabir Karriem, a Brooks ally, voted for the permit.
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