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Small vendors at odds over security, permits at First Friday
Some First Friday vendors are upset about security requirements for the monthly event. Video by ktnv.comvideo
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Some local artists won't be able to participate in this month's First Friday event in downtown Las Vegas. They say they are being forced to pay for Metro police officers as security guards, and they want to know why.
A group of artists from Handmade Las Vegas would normally have tents set up in a lot on Charleston and 3rd, but that lot remained vacant as festivities began on Friday night.
Their permit was denied. Metro says it's a matter of safety, while the artists say they are a victim of First Friday's success.
"We have live bands, acoustic music and drum circles," Cordero Gomez with Handmade Las Vegas said of their past events.
"This is the first time we've had any real issues with getting the permits," said Amber Moore.
Gomez and Moore are part of Handmade Las Vegas, a group of local artists who are not a part of the official First Friday event, but set up shop in the lot nearby.
Now, they say they're being booted because of the big crowds that show up. They emailed Action News after their safety plan was rejected by Metro police and their permit was denied.
Moore says they tried to hire private security, and Metro wanted them to hire Metro officers.
That's not completely true, according to police.
Officer Marcus Martin with Metro says county and city ordinances require all large-scale events like First Friday to have a certain number of security officers per citizen. Event organizers can hire either off-duty Metro officers at $66 an hour, or hire their own licensed and bonded security teams.
Martin says taxpayers should not have to foot the safety bill at an event that now attracts up to 10,000 people.
That's no consolation for small vendors with big dreams.
"It's really sad because this was going to be our last First Friday before the baby and it's gone now," Gomez said.
Gomez and Moore say if their promoter has to pay higher security fees, that cost gets passed down to them and they'll be priced out of business.
Organizers with First Friday say they are stepping in to help, offering a tent at the official event until permit issues can be worked out.