RALEIGH, N.C. — This week, the town of Wake Forest, North Carolina, became the second suburb of the state’s capital to cancel its annual Christmas parade over fear for public safety.
After a local Confederate group’s participation in the parade attracted the attention of “growing numbers of outside groups,” who planned to attend the event both in protest and support of the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy’s display, parade organizers voted to cancel rather than risk “the potential of violence,” the town explained in a press release.
Mayor Vivian Jones recorded an emotional message explaining the town’s support of this decision.
The decision to cancel the parade is not a reflection on our community or our wonderful people,” Jones said. “Rather it is an unfortunate consequence for what happens when outside agitators make it known that they will use local events like our parade to sow hate and spark chaos.”
“Clearly, it is not the most popular decision, but it is the safest decision,” she concluded.
North Carolina is no stranger to the public safety hazards posed by such protest groups.
Last year, a gathering in downtown Chapel Hill in support of a University of North Carolina graduate student, who faced charges for defacing a Confederate monument on campus, quickly devolved into a chaotic scene, which ended with the statue-in-question’s toppling.
As the News & Observer reported, “people darted in and out of the crowd through a haze from smoke bombs [after the statue came down]. Atop the statue someone placed a black cap that said, ‘Do It Like Durham,’ an apparent reference to the toppling of a Confederate statue there [the previous year].”
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office released a statement, saying he “understands that many people are frustrated by the pace of change and he shares their frustration, but violent destruction of public property has no place in our communities.”
While no one was hurt in the incident, previous protest events prove there can be no guarantee of safety.
In August 2017, Heather Heyer was mowed down by a white supremacist’s car as she protested the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virgina.
Learn more about the ongoing controversy over Confederate monuments in the South: