WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The organizer of a hip-hop concert is suing the city of Wilmington over its demand to be reimbursed for providing security for the event, which was staged with the help of city officials, including the organizer’s mother.
Foxtail Fest organizer Brandon Potter, son of Mayor Dennis Williams‘ former chief strategy adviser, argues in a Chancery Court lawsuit that his company is not liable for $6,821.02 in police, fire and emergency services personnel costs.
The lawsuit, which was served on the mayor’s office Thursday, claims that the company called What Scene? did not request and did not need the city personnel, and that officials unilaterally decided to deploy them to the riverfront festival site last fall.
But the lawsuit claims Williams himself was involved in decisions regarding the event.
According to the lawsuit, Williams “approved the event on behalf of the city and pledged his support” in a July 2013 meeting with Brandon Potter and suggested that Potter talk with cultural affairs manager Tanya Phillips “to see how the city could be of further assistance. …”
The lawsuit also claims that in a private meeting four days after the event, with questions being raised about the involvement of city officials, Williams said he had personally decided to cause five Wilmington Police Department officers to be deployed.
“I’m the mayor of Wilmington. I forced those officers to work due to the fact that we were having visitors from other states attending this event,” the lawsuit quotes Williams as saying. “Ultimately, I’m responsible for the safety of them along with the residents of Wilmington. … I’ll accept full responsibility for any fallout as a result of my decision.”
In a radio interview a week later, Williams criticized Jones-Potter, whose husband is the mayor’s cousin and a Democratic state representative, saying her “deep involvement with Foxtail was a huge mistake.”
A spokeswoman for Williams said Friday he would not talk about the lawsuit or allegations that he was involved in decisions regarding Foxtail Fest.
“The mayor’s not going to talk about this issue any more,” said spokeswoman Alexandra Coppadge.
“The mayor’s said several times in interviews and news releases that he had no involvement in deployment of officers to this particular event,” she added. “The mayor’s clearly stated several times that he had no involvement in that.”
The lawsuit claims that after too few Wilmington officers volunteered to work the festival for off-duty pay, city officials rejected What Scene?’s offer to add more private security or hire off-duty state troopers or county police.
According to the lawsuit, Jones-Potter, who attended the meeting, knew that the city’s positions violated city code and special events guidelines because What Scene had the right to provide security coverage on its own.
“Since WPD had no interest in resolving the situation and simply stated that Foxtail Fest would be cancelled, Velda Jones-Potter telephoned the mayor who, in turn, attempted to bring in the WPD chief of police into the discussions,” the lawsuit states.