Kent to close Plum Creek to prevent ‘unauthorized’ Juneteenth party
President of Black United Students at Kent State calls it racism, while police say it’s a safety issue.
KENT, Ohio (WOIO) - The Kent Police Department announced it will close Plum Creek Park on June 19 to prevent unauthorized parties from taking place.
Kent police said this action is being done as a matter of safety and caution, according to a press release.
A party occurred last year on June 19 that resulted in an extremely large and uncontrolled party that caused damage to the city park and left it littered with trash, debris, and broken bottles, that’s according to Kent Police.
But, Tayjua Hines the President, of Black United Students at Kent State University, believes shutting down the park to shut down the Juneteenth celebration is racism, “I really think it’s because of the racism in Kent. This is not anything new that happens. Black student parties get shut down all the time. While the frats that are right across the street from the police department - they happen throughout the night. They hardly ever get shut down.”
Kent’s Police Chief says the issue is not black and white. Police have provided photos of remnants of last year’s Juneteenth Celebration at Plum Creek Park that tell the story, according to officers.
The photos show trash left behind that littered the park, and the chief says that’s not the worst of it.
However, Black United Students says it’s not fair and not true. “They told us t leave the park, so how did they expect us to clean up the park if you kicked everyone out of the park,” Hines said.
Kent Police say the decision to shut down the park on Saturday from what they call an unauthorized Juneteenth celebration is a precaution to keep everyone safe this year. They claim last year’s Juneteenth celebration resulted in crimes that included criminal trespassing, fighting, underage drinking, destruction of property, and drug use. Police say feces was even spread all over a building.
Something Black United Students denies, “We had so much fun last year it was so peaceful, everybody was just being one. And to see it said that there was fighting, police were there they whole time,” Hines told 19 News.
But while Hines, who is a senior student at KSU, claims it was just good vibes and a celebration of freedom on what has now become a federal holiday, Kent Police say no one is free to commit crimes and cause chaos at the expense of others.
The Kent police apologized for the cancellations or postponements of legitimate events.
In a joint statement issued to 19 News by Kent’s Chief of Police Nicholas Shearer and Director of Parks and Recreation Angela Manley said:
“The statement made about the Kent Police Department shutting down black student parties while allowing frat parties to happen throughout the night is baseless and not supported by facts or statistics. The decision made by the Kent Parks & Rec Board to close Plum Creek Park on Saturday has nothing to do with race. It was a justified decision based on the fact that no one from this group had contacted the parks department to reserve the park, and they blatantly advertised on social media their intentions to consume excessive amounts of alcohol, engage in illegal drug use, and conduct themselves in the same manner that left our park in a deplorable condition for our residents last year. We cannot allow this behavior to happen again. This is not a decision we have taken lightly and was made in collaboration with our black community leaders. We look forward to an organized family-friendly Juneteenth celebration in the future.”
The park will reopen at 9 a.m. on June 20.
Here are pics from last year’s damage from Kent police.
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