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Hope Mills leaders say policy needed following complaints of racist float

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HOPE MILLS, N.C. -

Monday night, leaders in Hope Mills discussed potential rules for future parades after some residents complained a Fourth of July parade entry had racist overtones.

The town has never had rules about what is and is not allowed in parades. However that lack of policy came into question as dozens of parade watchers expressed concern about the contents of one of this year's floats.

Town manager John Ellis told commissioners there is a lot to consider when creating a policy that aims to eliminate potentially offensive entries from parades. For that reason, he said creating a policy should not be rushed.

So commissioners did not vote on new guidelines for parades Monday night, but they all agreed policy is needed. Commissioners expect to hear proposed parade guidelines at their second meeting of September, at which point action may be taken.

It became an issue for the town after about two dozen people complained about an entry in the parade. The entry included a tractor with a Confederate flag, pulling a trailer of watermelons, and on the sides were signs that read, "White history month" and "Hug white people."

There was also a vintage advertisement sign on the front of the trailer, with the derogatory word "picaninny" and a caricature of a black child eating watermelon.

Several people told WNCN the parade entry did not reflect Hope Mills as a whole.

"He should have had more tact about it, but I don't think it's going to affect the community as a whole," said Becky Sapp.

And Tonda Forbes said, "It is a good community place. I don't think anybody will think anything negative about Hope Mills because of that one little mess."

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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