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Rumors of violence prompt Hamlet to cancel July 4th festival

kgreen@idahostatesman.com

The Richmond County town of Hamlet, 80 miles east of Charlotte, abruptly canceled its July 4th celebration due to threats of violence.

Town officials posted the news on Facebook about 2:20 p.m. Monday, asking that the post be shared so news would spread quickly.

“The City of Hamlet regrets to announce that the Fourth of July festivities planned for tomorrow...have been canceled. Due to heightened safety concerns and recent security developments that have been brought to the city’s attention, the City believes that this decision is in the best interest of the safety of our citizens and the community.”

A Facebook post for Downtown Hamlet NC said: “The event and fireworks have been canceled for the best interest of the city and its citizens...We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Social media rumors tied the decision to a “gang retaliation” that some believed was going to coincide with the event.

Activities were planned on the town’s Main Street, and were to include food, fireworks and a watermelon eating competition for children and adults.

City Manager Jonathan Blanton told the The Richmond County Daily Journal Monday that city officials were exercising an “abundance of caution” in response to “multiple threats” that arose over the weekend. The newspaper also cited rumors of a planned gang retaliation, thought to be related to the shooting last Wednesday of Tierrell Martin, 20, of Dobbins Heights. He died of a single gunshot wound in an attack at a convenience store

Reaction to the cancellation was swift, with many expressing frustration and confusion on Facebook. Most wanted more details about why the cancellation was announced with such short notice.

“A better explanation should be given when you bring up security issues. Other festivities are going on and if there is a safety concern the public should be made aware of the real facts,” posted Karen Todd.

“What is going on? I don't live in Hamlet, but I own property and still have family there. Can anyone elaborate?” Dan Hicks posted.

“We pay taxes to keep us safe and not take away our community events we look forward to. Are we supposed to stay home and barricade ourselves tomorrow night also,” asked Spencer Liles.

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