Dear Blackstonian Family,
It pains me to have to report to you that 10,000 Strong Boston will not take place this year, Father’s Day and the day after Juneteenth as we have done since 2008. In order to explain WHY we cannot do it this year I have attached the original letter (see below) I sent out to various Elected and City Officials who shall remain nameless at this time, because I don’t think there is any one person to blame. Rather I believe it is a societal ill where often the finger is pointed at the community for “not doing anything” but any attempt to do anything good for us and by us and the pointing finger quickly turns to a clenched fist to smash efforts that are not within the systems direct control.
We will still do 10,000 Strong Boston but we will manifest at another time at another location and this time I’m not asking the City anything or giving them the courtesy of filing for a permit. We will do what we have always done and make due with what we have. We will most likely move to a park that does not require “rangers” or an empty lot that we will clean free of broken bottles, needles and litter. Or maybe even just show up on City Hall Plaza a couple hundred deep and we can present some of the issues we have worked on for the past several years. Stay Tuned.
It is a shame to me that efforts such as 10,000 Strong Boston are not embraced by the City and that Boston once again in my 40 yrs has proven itself a difficult place to live in for a Black person.
Thank you to all who have made 10,000 Strong Boston a success without even the hint of violence since 2008 and who will also join us in the very near future. To all those who participated, contributed food, time, energy, brought their children, to those who spoke and brought information for the community…. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!
Thumbs down to the City of Boston on this one.
Original Letter sent out in April 5, 2011
Since 2008, I have been organizing 10,000 Strong Boston each year the Sunday after Juneteenth which also falls on Father’s Day. 10,000 Strong Boston is a community event with a focus on issues plaguing our community; drugs, crime, gangs, guns, violence, unemployment, etc. We promote Peace, Family, Fatherhood, Education, Involvement, Mentoring, Accountability and Responsibility. 10,000 Strong has attracted crowds of several hundred from all walks of life; Black, Latino, Cape Verdean, Youth, Elders, Clergy, Community Leaders and Elected Officials such as; Councillor Ayanna Pressley, Councillor Charles Yancey, State Rep. Carlos Henriquez, Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Sen. Bill Owens and Gov. Deval Patrick. 10,000 Strong Boston has received positive responses from community and media alike; featured in Boston Herald, Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix, Boston Metro, Channel 5, BNN, NNN.
(See each years event… press, photos, videos, etc.)
In past years, 10,000 Strong Boston was supported at the City level by Mr. Larry Mayes, who generously provided us with a City generator in 2008 at no charge and was supportive each year. I have never paid to use Franklin Park for this worthwhile community event.
I was surprised to receive a letter in November of 2010 after another successful event June 20, 2010 which showed a revised permit contract (different than the signed original) which indicated a fee of $431.20.
The initial contract I signed and all prior conversations with Parks & Recreation Dept. never indicated that there would be any fee associated with this community event. I did not have to pay in 2008 and I did not have to pay in 2009. As a strictly community based grassroots effort with no formal structure, no staff, no office, no budget or 501c3 non-profit status, a bill of this amount is a major financial burden and may in fact jeopardize 10,000 Strong Boston this year on Sun. June 19th 2011.
I am requesting your assistance in having these fees waived and ensuring that future community events will be free of charge or we will be forced to either search for an alternate or private location, thus not utilizing our City’s central open space, or cancel the event altogether strictly due to financial constraints. The only other remedy would be securing sponsorship or a fund to defray the costs of the past and potential future city fees.
In a city where there are so many issues facing our community and where there is such a strong desire for community organization and unity, it is my belief that to “tax” or “charge” events with community building goals does the city of Boston a disservice and actually discourages people from civic engagement and getting involved. In contrast, on any given day, anyone can host a friends and family “non-formal” cookout in Franklin Park with no advance notice, no permit and no charge which may have more people, many of whom are consuming alcoholic beverages and with no regulation, supervision or park ranger presence other than standard patrol.
10,000 Strong Boston is a free event for which we solicit donations from local supermarkets in order to provide people, particularly children, with free hot dogs and drinks. As a truly grassroots effort, friends and family extend themselves to provide private grills or donate any extra money needed for food, we are not an organization who can bear the extra burden of almost a $500 expense, which is arguably unnecessary to begin with. These fees are restrictive and seem almost punitive for those who want to do good in the community.
All organizers clean up before and after the event, every time leaving the park in better condition than when we arrived. Our event as an anti-violence, pro-peace event is very unlikely to ever experience an incident in which the police or rangers presence is warranted, no more than a church picnic.
I recognize the city’s need to raise revenue, however I think exceptions should be made in instances such as this where communities gather in a Peace Rally to address the issues we are facing. Any event which charges a fee or has financial sponsorship, should easily and happily pay associated fees.
Please look at the enclosed original and subsequent permits from the Parks and Recreation Dept.
May 7, 2010 – Initial Permit Approved
(submitted April 29, 2010, signed)
June 21, 2010 – Permit changed to charge a fee
(day AFTER the event with no prior notice that this was even a possibility, not signed)
November 15, 2010 Letter re: Overdue Permit Fees
(w/Permit dated 11/15/10)