Two towns in North Carolina have been forced to cancel their annual Christmas parades following reports that the events might be disrupted by “outside agitators” upset about floats decorated with confederate flags.
The Raleigh News and Observer says that the town of Garner cancelled its annual event just before Thanksgiving when people on social media complained about the participation of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in its parade.
Here are the Sons of Confederate Veterans in the 2018 Garner Christmas Parade.— Move Silent Sam (@Move_Silent_Sam) November 25, 2019
Is the Town of Garner trying to send the message that racism is welcome in the community?
Is this Raleigh, North Carolina suburb going to allow Confederates in this year's Christmas parade?? pic.twitter.com/15huF44GCJ
Then, this week, the nearby town of Wake Forest announced that it was cancelling its own parade, a 70-year-old tradition, for similar reasons, the Observer reports.
In a video message posted to Facebook, Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones said the threat of violence from groups outside the community prompted the decision.
“Even though for most of us our Christmas parade is about spending time with friends and family and celebrating the spirit of the season, there are some outside our community whose sole intent is to use the occasion as a platform to promote their political agenda without any regard for the safety of others,” she said.
Garner cancelled its event after images of last year’s parade displayed a float by the Sons of Confederate Veterans with the Confederate battle flag on it. Members of the group, one of 52 scheduled to participate in the event, have been active at the parade for several years.
Garner City spokesman Rick Mercier said there were no overt threats about the float, but the city opted to act out of an abundance of caution for fear that “outside agitators” would disrupt the event.
I grew up in Garner, NC— W͙M͙I͙I͙I͙X͙ (@WilliamMatt22) December 5, 2019
I attended Middle/High School there
I played this exact parade with my Marching Band every year
I used to walk on Timber Dr after school & have trucks w/ confederate flags yell the N Word at me
This town is truly ugly & racisthttps://t.co/a7KJ7vIWJ4
“We just absolutely had to err on the side of public safety and what we thought was best and what we could realistically prepare for and not put the public and staff in any kind of a bad situation,” he said.
Wake Forest officials reported receiving information from a “growing numbers of outside groups” who said they planned to attend the parade there both in support of the confederate groups and opposed to them.