A North Carolina town canceled its annual Christmas parade over concerns of 'outside agitators' amid controversy over Confederate group
- The North Carolina town of Wake Forest has canceled its longstanding Christmas parade.
- The town released a statement saying that police officials feared an influx of protestors descending on the event to support or oppose the inclusion of a Sons of Confederate Veterans group in the parade.
- The statement says that the decision was made "over concerns about public safety."
- "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," Mayor Vivian Jones said in a tearful video.
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Wake, Forest, North Carolina canceled its annual Christmas parade over fears that a Confederate group's participation would spark dangerous protests.
The town posted a statement on its website and official Facebook page saying that the parade's sponsor, local nonprofit Wake Forest Downtown, decided to nix the celebration "over concerns about public safety."
Confederate symbology has long been controversial, with critics like The Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People arguing that the icons encourage a nostalgic and reverent view of a secessionist pseudo-state propped up by race-based slavery.
The statement said that the decision came about after Wake Forest law enforcement officials testified that they were concerned that over 200 "outside agitators" would show up to either support or oppose the inclusion of a local Sons of Confederate Veterans group in the parade.
Republican Mayor Vivian Jones released a tearful video supporting the decision to cancel the parade, which has been held in the town for over 70 years. She cited public safety issues as the primary factor in the decision.
"I love Wake Forest, but even more, I love the people of Wake Forest," Jones said. "Let me be perfectly clear. The decision to cancel this year's parade is not a reflection on our community or our wonderful people. 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."
According to the News & Observer, the Sons of Confederate Veterans group that participates in this particular Christmas parade is known as the 47th Regiment NC Troops Camp #166. Founded in 1896, the Sons of Confederate Veterans is an organization made up of the male descendants of Confederate veterans.
The News & Observer reported that SCV groups in Wake County claim 3,000 members. The Southern Poverty Law Center said that the group promotes "neo-Confederate" thinking that stresses a "reactionary, revisionist predilection for symbols of the Confederate States of America."
The camp's Facebook page is liked by 1,485 people and features photos of lectures on topics like "Confederates of color" and "the South's stand for Biblical authority." It also contains footage from the 2015 Wake Forester Christmas parade. The video shows a group of men dressed in grey uniforms carrying Confederate flags.
In 2017, Derrick Johnson, the former president of the NAACP, published a statement saying that the Confederate flag and other imagery "emboldens hateful groups" and serve as "symbols of hatred and racism."
A Carolina Confederate newsletter on the group's website said that the camp donated $500 NC SCV Monument Defense and challenged other SCV groups in the state to match that number, in order to "fight" Democratic governor Roy Cooper's attempts to "remove our Confederate Monuments from the grounds of our State Capitol in Raleigh."
The town's statement on the cancelation concluded with a note that the town will strive to find a way to host the parade in a safe manner in 2020.
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