On the evening of Oct. 28, event promoter William Marshall sat outside of Luke Wholey’s Restaurant & Entertainment Complex, waiting to tell people that the Charity Halloween Costume Party & Steeler Game Afterparty planned there that evening had been cancelled. Two days earlier Marshall said Wholey informed him that he could no longer hold his event at the complex, despite having signed a contract and agreement Oct. 11.
“The biggest problem I’ve had was I had to go down there Sunday night and sit in front of the club to tell people it was cancelled. Almost 100 people showed up in costume. It hurt my reputation as a promoter,” Marshall said. “I have a written contract, so we definitely have to take action.”
According to Marshall, Wholey was told owner Robert Sunseri would evict him from the property if he proceeded with the scheduled event. Marshall believes Sunseri’s position is part of an initiative to prohibit events catered to African-Americans.
Marshall also contacted the club owners of CAVO and EXIT, but says he was told by the owner of CAVO that clubs in the Strip District refuse to host events catered to African-Americans because of pressure from the Allegheny County district attorney’s office, the community organization Neighbors of the Strip, and certain landlords and club owners.
“I’ve done events in the Strip District in the past. What’s transpiring is, going over to the Strip District, they’re telling me they don’t want urban events,” Marshall said. “What about all of the incidents on Carson Street? Nobody’s trying to shut them down.”
Proceeds from the event were set to be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh. Marshall has held numerous events through out the city and says he has never had a violent incident at one of his events.
“Basically there haven’t been any events in the Strip District since 2011. There was a shooting in the Strip District on New Years in 2011, but I had nothing to do with those events,” Marshall said. “At my events there has never been an incident. We have good turnouts and we have good people who come to our events, which is why we usually have Steelers involved in our events.”
The event was promoted by Steelers player Maurkice Pouncey and set to feature players LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Brown, Casey Hampton, Ike Taylor and others. The event was promoted via social networking sites and flyers, and the organization Yinzers In-the-Burgh donated Steelers apparel to be signed and raffled at the event.
The New Pittsburgh Courier attempted to contact Wholey and Sunseri for comment. Wholey did not respond and the person who answered Sunseri’s listed number said it was incorrect.
Marshall previously alleged racial discrimination against venue owners in Station Square after he was prohibited from holding an event at a club in the area.