Trayvon Martin rally brought threat

April 18, 2012 2:15:37 PM PDT
Oxford police were on the lookout for problems Thursday after a planned rally at the Granville County Courthouse triggered a threatening letter to the mayor.

Oxford police were on the lookout for problems Thursday after a planned rally at the Granville County Courthouse triggered a threatening letter to the mayor.

The letter - full of misspellings - voices opposition to an event organized by Oxford Commissioner Calvin J. Harris that was billed as a non-violent march and rally in support of "Justice for All!" in light of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

The anonymous letter writer claims to be part of a group called Citizens to Keep Oxford Safe and accuses Harris of "using the race card" to "light the fuse to split Oxford."

"This is a community function. It's not about black or white. It's about all people," Harris told ABC11.

The letter goes on to threaten the use of force to "control any violence that may break out."

"I was very concerned about the letter and I immediately called the chief of police," said Harris.

Oxford's police chief called the letter - which threatens the use of clubs and Tasers, among other things - volatile. But he wasn't expecting problems.

"I don't think we ever dismissed anything like that but we're not out on a witch hunt to try to figure out who wrote the letter," said Chief John Wolford.

Wolford said his officers would provide security as they would with any event, protecting protestors, mindful of Oxford's long racial history.

"This community has worked hard to kind of break down those barriers," he offered.

Harris said the letter shows there's still work to be done.

"I am disappointed that in 2012 people still have issues with justice for all people," said Harris.

Harris said the anonymous threat was unnerving, but not enough to turn marchers around.

"I have advised the people that  are going to march with us ? this is going to be very peaceful. We are not to in any way start a confrontation with anyone," he explained.

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