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NAACP included in Mummers' Parade

October 31, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

Threats against black participants in Saturday's Alsatia Mummers' Parade prompted organization leaders to allow a last-minute entry into the event - the local chapter of the NAACP.

Parade organizers received a potential threat of violence last week, prompting the FBI to investigate and local police to increase patrols at the annual parade, according to published reports.

After the threats were made public, chapter leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People approached parade organizers and asked if they could be included, Alsatia Mummers' Parade Inc. President and Chairman James McCleaf II said Sunday. While the NAACP contacted organizers after the deadline for entry, McCleaf said he believed it was important for the organization to be included.

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"We thought it was a fitting statement," he said. "It's saying we're not afraid of you, and we're going to stand up to things like this. We're not going to let these people ruin our lives."

About 15 NAACP members were expected to walk in the parade. McCleaf said he decided to place them toward the front of the parade, as a show of support for black participants that would follow.

McCleaf said the increased police presence at the parade was obvious.

"The FBI was here. No doubt about it," he said. "I'm glad they were there."

Despite the potential for distraction, he said Saturday's parade was the most smoothly run of any in the organization's history.

"Everyone showed up that was supposed to," he said. "We got them down the street safely. It was a lot of fun, and we had a great time."

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