The founding group of the annual MLK Parade is planning to boycott the event as the City of Chattanooga is hosting it for the first time.
The Unity Group has sponsored the parade since 1970 but said they were put in a position where they couldn’t participate this year.
The group’s members elected not to do the MLK March because of “procedural roadblocks and political maneuvering,” according to spokesperson Sherman Matthews.
“Our deliberations and discussions with City of Chattanooga personnel throughout the year-long planning process for this year's memorial march gave no clue of any loose ends until 48 hours before the event date,” Matthews wrote in a news release.
Matthews said the city required insurance and to pay for police presence this year. The City said it notified the group of the change in November. Matthews said he got the insurance certificate last week and a permit was issued Thursday. But he said the barricade company didn’t have enough notice, so the Unity Group canceled the parade.
City Spokesperson, Lacie Stone said they began making plans to organize the event after the Unity Group called it off late Friday night.
“As the March is an important event for so many in Chattanooga, we quickly went to work to ensure the parade could continue, offering to secure barricades and any additional items needed,” Stone wrote in an email to Channel 3. “We reassured the Unity Group that the March could go on as they planned and we asked them to host it. Unfortunately, the Unity Group declined.”
Matthews said the Unity Group will protest the parade and exercise the “true spirit and essence Martin Luther King.”
“We believe city officials exercised a governmental nuclear option to orchestrate a deliberate and hostile takeover of the MLK March and parade,” Matthews said.
The City and various local groups are moving forward with Monday afternoon’s parade. It begins at 3 p.m. at North Moore Road and Brainerd Road and ends at Brainerd High School. Lineup begins at 1:45 p.m. between Waffle House and Ridgeview Baptist Church.
The Unity Group’s main event is still scheduled at Brainerd High School at 5 – 7:30 p.m. The event will be a concert with Phusion Dance Group from Atlanta.