Monday, March 30, 2020

North Carolina Towns Forced to Cancel Christmas Parades

For two decades Wake Forest, N.C.’s annual Christmas parade has included floats sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

But the parade is now canceled, after police informed town officials large groups both opposing and supporting the Confederate groups planned to come to the town to picket the event.

Officials feared a repeat of events in Charlottesville, Virginia when opponents and supporters of the Confederacy clashed at a 2017 “Unite The Right” rally, ending with an Ohio “alt-right” activist driving his car into a group of leftist protesters, killing a young woman.

Leftist groups, led by “Antifa,” have also engaged in physical assaults, stabbings, beatings and attempted murders in their street protests.

“We aren’t happy telling kids they can’t attend or participate in this year’s parade – but it’s better than trying to explain to a parent whose child was injured why we chose to proceed despite so many warning signs,” said Wake Forest Police Chief Jeff Leonard.

“No matter what side of this issue you are on, our focus is public safety and at this point, the risk of moving forward with the parade simply outweighs any possible reward,” said Leonard.

“Groups that contact us about their plans to protest tend to follow our rules and regulations,” said Leonard. “We’re concerned about outside agitators that don’t notify us. Radicals don’t typically call ahead. These aren’t area residents we’re talking about. These are professional protesters who have no regard for the safety and well-being of others.”

“For most of us, our annual Christmas parade is about spending time with friends and family and celebrating the spirit of the season,” said Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones. “Yet there are some outside our community whose sole purpose is to use the occasion to promote their political agenda without any regard for the health and safety of our citizens. The WFD Board made the wise decision to deny these outside agitators the opportunity to use Wake Forest as a platform to spread hate and incite violence,” she said.

“The decision to cancel this year’s parade is not a reflection on our community or our wonderful people,” said Jones. “Rather, it’s an unfortunate consequence of what happens when outside agitators make it known they will use local events like our parade to sow hate and spark chaos.”

The nearby town of Garner is also canceling its Christmas parade over the possibility it would be “targeted for disruption” by outside protesters both for and against its Confederate floats.

“The Town is especially concerned about the possibility of bystanders—including children—being caught in the middle of disruptive actions,” officials announced.

The SCV and UDC floats featured people in period costumes like Confederate grey uniforms and hoop dresses, displaying Confederate flags.  While members of the SCV and UDC are largely interested only in the history of the Civil War, outside groups supporting them often bellicosely spout racist rhetoric, and groups opposing them are largely made up of aggressive socialists.

A decision to ban Confederate floats likely would have drawn protests from “alt-right” groups, which would have attracted counter-protests from leftists, setting up potential mass violence.  Officials felt they had no choice but to cancel the events altogether.

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