Swift, appropriate response to West End incident

Published 6:30 pm Friday, July 17, 2015

Local leaders deserve to be commended for their swift and appropriate response to a situation that could have ended much worse than it did.

In the pre-dawn hours of Thursday morning, a group flew Confederate flags through the streets and shouted racial slurs in West End, a mostly black neighborhood in Clanton.

While it’s not illegal to display the flag, this group was obviously intent on stirring up trouble, as evidenced by an arrest for disorderly conduct by a 20-year-old who refused a police officer’s orders to move his vehicle from blocking a road.

Clanton police defused the situation before it turned violent, and then Thursday evening, community leaders organized a meeting at Fountain Chapel AME church in West End.

Law enforcement representatives explained the situation and the police response to a sanctuary full of concerned residents. Community leaders—including the heads of the West End Neighborhood Watch and local NAACP chapter, along with Clanton City Councilman Greg DeJarnett and Mayor Billy Joe Driver—assured residents that such provocation would not be tolerated and also encouraged them to channel the passion the situation had arisen in them in a positive direction, such as joining the Neighborhood Watch.

The West End Neighborhood Watch has had a positive effect on the community, and Clanton in general. The group could use all the support it can get.

There’s no place for provoking a community of people. Thankfully, there are enough good citizens in Clanton and Chilton County to address such a situation.