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Security dispute cancels popular downtown art show
A permit was denied for a local arts event scheduled to take place on Friday. Video by ktnv.comvideo
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A dispute over security has canceled a popular downtown art show.
Organizers of "The LOT" said the city of Las Vegas denied the permit for their January event set to take place Friday. As part of the event, artists transform the empty lot on Charleston Boulevard near Main Street into an exhibition site to sell their work.
"It feels like, for whatever reason, we're being harassed," said event coordinator Marlene Reid, who is appealing the decision.
The event draws up to 5,000 thousand people downtown on the first Friday of each month, but is separate from the official First Friday celebration, organizers said.
The issue: security. Organizers said the city wants the event's two security guards to wear shirts, jackets or uniforms clearly marked with the word "security" in at least five-inch letters. Reid said the guards, who are law enforcement officers, currently wear a badge over plain clothes.
Action News asked Reid why the group doesn't simply buy the shirts to settle the dispute.
"So long as we comply with all the applicable rules and regulations and have a proven track record of safety and security, then private business -- which is what we are -- ought to be able to operate in peace and quiet without harassment from the city," Reid said.
Up to 40 vendors and artists rely on the event for extra income.
"Not like a huge part of our income, but it really helps supplement it. Especially after the holidays," said crafter Cordero Gomez.
This marks the second time in the past year the lot will sit empty on the first Friday of the month. The May event was canceled following a separate dispute with the city over the type of security guards used on site, Reid said.
While declining to go on camera, city spokesman Jace Radke said the latest request for marked security apparel is a safety issue. Special shirts make security guards easier for police and the public to identify, Radke said. Without the shirts, the city said it visited the event several times but was unable to spot security.
"They want people to come to the arts district. They want people to come downtown and they make it virtually impossible for someone to do it the right way," Reid said. "We do it the right way."
The appeal now heads to the city manager, who will make the final decision, Radke said. It's unclear when that will happen, but Reid said she'd like to see the event return by February.