City denies permit to controversial MLK parade

After coming under fire for its choice of grand marshal, an MLK parade has been denied its permit by the City of Arlington

  • Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr. speaks to a large crowd
    Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr. speaks to a large crowd (Photo: Julian Wasser, Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Zack Maxwell

The City of Arlington has declined to issue a special events permit to a group that had planned a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade in the Entertainment District.

Citing a failure by parade organizers to provide the required payment to cover personnel, equipment, traffic management and security costs, the city announced Thursday afternoon that it would not be issuing the required permit for the Toyota Dr. Martin Luther King Jr parade that was planned for Monday, Jan. 15 in the Entertainment District.

And despite parade organizers saying they would provide the payment Friday, a city spokesperson said it was too late for a permit to be issued.

“An event like a parade usually requires a permit to be obtained 45 days prior to the event,” said city Communications Manager Jay Warren. “We’ve been very accommodating all throughout the process. They were not able to meet deadlines.”

One of those deadlines was providing an approximately $34,000 payment to cover the expenses for city personnel, security, traffic management, and other requirements.

The parade came under fire from the Arlington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for its choice to make Gov. Greg Abbott an honorary grand marshal.

Suggesting the decision “stings with hypocrisy,” the civil rights group claimed Abbott’s political activities put him at odds with minorities. Other groups and community leaders added to the condemnation.

When asked if she felt her parade was receiving unfair treatment because of its choice of grand marshal, Executive Producer Winsor Barbee said “yes.”

But Warren responded that the city has been “very accommodating” throughout the permitting process.

“I find it hard to believe there’s been unfair treatment when we normally require events to have these permits at least 45 days out,” Warren said.

He added that events such as a parade require the organizer obtain insurance, permits, bathroom facilities, public safety elements and much more. He said the organizers failed to meet critical deadlines.

“At this stage, there wouldn’t be sufficient time to plan the logistics of such a large event,” Warren said.

A call to Arlington NAACP President Alisa Simmons for comment was not answered. The group scheduled a town hall meeting on the matter for Thursday evening at the Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church in Arlington.  

This is a developing story. New information will be added as it becomes available