(CBS Detroit) A community organizer is speaking out tonight after he was forced to shut down the Detroit African Cultural Festival over the weekend.
City officials say the event never had clearance in the first place.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: The Political Road Ahead
According to organizers of the Second Annual Detroit African Festival, an event meant to empower the community was cut short by city officials.
Demond Petty, Detroit African Festival Organizer, said, “We still had all the elements besides the vendors, so it ruined it in the fact that aftermath, we now have to repay all those vendors, and we did not take money in as a profit, so we’re now doing that out of our personal pockets. “
What was supposed to be two days of family fun, food and culture ended with vendors being told to pack up and leave.
Petty said, “people were confused because we were just, they were just giving away pens, pamphlets, information, you know, resources.”
The confusion started when a vendor called the city complaining that someone had taken off with her vending fee and never called her back.
Friday, city officials showed up at Maheras-Gentry park on Detroit’s east side and acted.READ MORE: 'My Name Is Sara' Film On Holocaust Survivor Premieres In Metro Detroit
Petty said, “We were told that we were able to give things away for free, and when the business administration investigator showed up, he actually told all those people to pack up and leave.”
Officials from the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department are telling CW50 organizers were charging vendors up to $200 for space at the event, which requires a business license permit.
The Parks and Recreation division released a statement to CW50 saying event organizers were told during a meeting on September 15th that vendors were not permitted.
As a result, vendors were dismissed, but the event was not shut down.
Petty said, “Yes, we did have a permit for the park and the space, and that’s all I ever had for 11 years doing these events, but apparently, we’re also supposed to have a permit for each and every vendor.”
The Detroit African Festival Committee says the vending fees were used to cover the overhead expenses like food, entertainment, and supplies.
Organizers say all vendors will be refunded in the next 30 days.MORE NEWS: Dearborn Homecoming Festival Kicks Off This Weekend
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