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Police say threats made against parade

October 28, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

HAGERSTOWN

daniels@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Police Department confirmed Thursday that organizers of the Alsatia Club received a potential threat of violence this week directed toward black participants of the Mummers' Parade scheduled for Saturday in downtown Hagerstown.

Hagerstown Police Lt. Michael King said the department's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI are trying to determine the source and credibility of the threat, which as of Thursday afternoon was considered "unsubstantiated and not corroborated."

King said the department is working with law enforcement officials at the county, state and federal levels and will provide additional security during the parade, which Alsatia Mummers' Parade Inc. President and Chairman James McCleaf II said will be held as scheduled.

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"We are doing everything we can to give as much security as we can to this event," King said.

King would not discuss specifics about the threat.

King said he does not believe there is any connection between the threat and a flurry of hate letters - at least nine of them - mailed to city residents surrounding the city election earlier this year. King said that investigation is ongoing.

The 81st annual parade, to be held along Potomac Street from Wayside Avenue to Wilson Boulevard, is scheduled to start Saturday at 7 p.m. McCleaf said club members have been notifying parade participants of the threat so they can make their own decisions about whether to take part. About 200 units have registered, ranging from service clubs and organizations such as the Hancock Lions Club to student groups within Washington County Public Schools.

Carol Mowen, spokeswoman for Washington County Public Schools, said the school system will send letters home with students on Friday informing parents and guardians about the threat and emphasizing student participation is voluntary. Mowen said several school groups are scheduled to participate, including high school and middle school bands. She said the school system will continue to monitor the situation and reevaluate as necessary.

Anyone with information about the threat may call 301-739-8577, ext. 275.

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