County men plan rally, vigil for slain Missouri teen

By Kevin Spradlin

Two Richmond County men are bringing the protest of alleged police brutality Missouri to the courthouse steps Friday night in downtown Rockingham.

Submitted photo Chris Clark and Michael McRae receive their approved permit from Rockingham City Clerk Gwen Swinney Thursday at City Hall.

Submitted photo
Chris Clark and Michael McRae receive their approved permit from Rockingham City Clerk Gwen Swinney Thursday at City Hall.

Michael McRae and Chris Clark, 2005 graduates of Richmond Senior High School, represent the newly formed group Unarmed Coalition for Change. The group had its permit application for a Rally for Justice: Prayer for Peace assembly approved by City Hall earlier today. The assembly will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the steps of the Richmond County Courthouse on Franklin Street.

Michael Brown was gunned down by a police officer Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. CNN reports via The Huffington Post that witnesses have called it “an unprovoked attack on an unarmed teenager.”

The city, located outside of St. Louis in eastern Missouri, has been overwhelmed with protests since then in what residents are calling an unjustified shooting. Racial tensions have flared, and the lines of authority and discipline of police officers have blurred, with one officer daring protestors and calling them “(expletive) animals.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, “During the  (Wednesday) nighttime confrontation, protesters with shirts wrapped around their faces held signs that read, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” as police closed in on the crowd. The slogan has been adopted by protesters because witnesses said 18-year-old Michael Brown was running with his hands in the air when a policeman shot him to death Saturday in Ferguson.”

Daily life has changed in and around St. Louis. A real estate agent in nearby Overland, Mo., posted on his Facebook page that his town is “probably the most mixed area racially in Missouri and I feel the tension. Mailman didn’t say hi today. Shop ‘n’ Save checker ignored me today. Police sirens every hour. Those who know me also know that I love everyone, even strangers, and I love our great city of St. Louis. I feel so bad about this and am truly worried about the days to come … we must pray … we must unite and love each other.”

McRae called the coordinating of Friday’s rally “a rapidly developing situation” to address “a pressing issue.”

“We really feel that Ferguson is just a Rockingham in the way things happen,” McRae said. “Ntohing like that has happened in Rockingham, thank God, but we have some of the same issues.”

The event is scheduled two weeks after the Rockingham Police Department hosted National Night Out, a community event designed to foster improved relations and trust between law enforcement officers and the people they are sworn to protect and serve.

In a news release distributed Thursday, McRae and Clark say that the event in Ferguson “could heave easily happened on so many streets throughout the Sandhills area.”

Coalition supporters, the men said, believe “that the United States, and more sharply North Carolina is growing more diverse and all people should be respected.”

McRae and Clark acknowledge in the news release that “the facts of the investigation are yet to be unveiled” but there is one inarguable fact: “that another unarmed African-American male was killed by a police force. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and countless other nameless victims deserve justice.”

The public is invited to the prayer vigil and Protest for Justice at the courthouse. McRae and Clark are asking those in support of the coalition and Brown wear white shirts in remembrance. Respectful signs and posters are welcome.

There was no cost for the permit, said Rockingham City Clerk Gwen Swinney. The two men picked up the approved permit earlier Thursday under the name of Unarmed Coalition for Change, which has an Ellerbe address.

After high school, McRae graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Drake School of Law. Clark, meanwhile, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (N.Y.)


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  • Daffy

    Oh good grief, again someone so worried about others yet cant see the need right in front of their faces. Why ? Folks right here in our own town need helping. I give and I support LOCAL charities and events giving in honor/memory or for the locals.

    Is this just more folks believing the hype. Think about this,in this day and age of cell phone cameras, you tube, the viral videos and such, would anybody or an Officer going to just start shooting and killing in cold blood. Which is what folks would have us to believe. Is this another case of people wanting to make something out of a tragic loss of life. No the person does not deserve to be dead. No his family does not deserve to go though this sort of thing. No family deserves to loose their loved ones. Yet folks must remember that their actions have consequences that can cost them everything while also devastating others. We were not there. We were not in the scuffle / incident. We don’t know who reach for what who touched this or that. Nor can we sat what any ones thoughts and intentions were.There are always three sides to every story. This one,theirs and then the factual truth.

    This is just my opinion which we are all entitled to one. We don’t have to agree with anyone’s. Just agree that they are entitled to theirs.

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