Leaders of the Limestone County NAACP gathered at Home Place Park on Thursday to express their "grave concerns" over a gun vendor and a group with Moms for Liberty planning to attend the Madison Street Festival this Saturday.
"It's a great concern of mine, as well as the Limestone NAACP, that we would have this festival here this coming weekend that would invite and have as a part of its vendors as gun salesmen," said Wilbert Woodruff, president of Limestone County NAACP. "And we all know that guns create situations that no citizen in this country wants to be a part of."
Woodruff mentioned the recent shooting at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., and said that "without guns, that would not be possible."
"It's always a great concern when public festivals or anything like that are ever part of the advertisement of guns or destructionary [sic] weapons that could hurt anybody in our society, as well as any other extremist groups," he continued. "We know that there is another vendor that is going to participate in this weekend's festivities that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has deemed as being 'extremist.' The Limestone NAACP stands with this group of citizens here in the City of Madison to denounce that type of exceptions within this festival."
Jocelyn Broer, a concerned Madison citizen, agreed with Woodruff and condemned including the "extremist group" in the festival, ostensibly referring to Moms for Liberty.
"I believe this festival should bring a community together, not pull them apart," Broer said. "...They [Moms for Liberty] are advancing an anti-student inclusion agenda and are seeking to undermine public education and divide communities. The scariest thing for a young person is to think they are all alone. No one should ever feel that way, and seeing yourself and your feelings in a book at the library may be the words that save someone's life and prevent suicide."
Brewer added that while she isn't against people owning guns, she opposed the gun vendor attending the festival, citing unsourced "gun violence" statistics, particularly among young people.
"Our directors for this festival need to be accountable to all taxpayers. Are we going to open the booths to other extremists? Are we going to have an ABC liquor booth? Vaping? Will we let the Pink Pony set up a booth? ... We can do better," she said.
Hanu Karplapalem, second vice-president of the Limestone NAACP, said that while Moms for Liberty and the gun vendor have the right to "advocate their positions," they have other "venues and opportunities" to do so.
"Both of them though have many venues and ample opportunities to deliver their points of view and do not need a stage at an event supporting public education," he said. "All of the elected officials … need to answer how in the world a gun vendor and an extremist group are going to have their booths this Saturday at the Madison Street Festival. None of it is acceptable at an event attended by thousands of families with children and teens with no adult supervision."
Karplapalem added that according to the SPLC — a leftwing, civil rights watchdog — Moms for Liberty has had "associations" with the alleged "white-nationalist group," The Proud Boys.
"So what's next for Madison?" Karplapalem asked. "Is there going to be a Madison Street Proud Boys Festival? ... People of Madison should not pay attention to the Moms for Liberty message of hate and violence. We must ignore groups or individuals spreading any kind of divisive and dangerous messages. Hate and extremism are coming to the streets of Madison and it's schools. The mayor and council members have zero credibility or trust from the people of Madison. They continue to mess up the city. Hold the accountable. Stop hate."
Emily Jones, chair of the Madison chapter of Moms for Liberty, said her group has complied with the city's rules and regulations to attend the event and called the SPLC's "extremist" declaration "defamatory." The SPLC has been the subject of several defamation lawsuits in the past from organizations it has labeled as "hate groups" and is currently battling a suit in Georgia.
"Much like our event at the Madison Library, M4L has followed the process for requesting space at the public event as specifically outlined by the city. We have paid all required fees to be a vendor at this public event and will be exercising our rights as local citizens and taxpayers to educate our community about our mission, goals and aspirations for our state," Jones told 1819 News. "The label from the SPLC is very defamatory, but it will not stop our organization from fighting for the preservation of our parental rights. Parental rights come from God, not government."
SEE ALSO: Moms for Liberty Madison chapter founder rips SPLC for attack on parental rights group — 'If a mom protecting her child is considered threatening, we really need to look at what threatening means'
She added, "Our children are a gift from God, not government. We will continue to unify, educate, and empower parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government. If you are not familiar with M4L, we encourage you to conduct your own research about our organization to learn the truth about what we stand for. "
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