By MJ Brickey and Jeanne LeFlore
More than 30 people started the Hoodies Up March in front of the Carl Albert Federal Building at noon Saturday. By 1 p.m. there were more than 60 participants.
The march was expected to bring hundreds of people to the area, according to organizer Arlene Barnum, of Stuart.
Before the march started, Aaron Williams, president of Concerned Citizens of Southeast Oklahoma, introduced Barbara Smitherman, senior pastor of Tabernacle House of Praise and Worship Center. Smitherman led a prayer, then Williams stated the rules of the march and reminded those attending the march was a peaceful vigil.
“There may be some name calling directed toward you,” Williams said. “There are some people that are against what we represent today.”
“Please do not respond,” he said. “This will be a peaceful vigil.”
He said if anyone felt they would not be able to handle the name-calling they should not take part in the march and leave.
No counter-protest was reported during the event. Interim McAlester Police Chief Gary Wansick said he had assigned four officers to cover the march, and two Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers were also on hand.
Some drivers honked and waved as they passed by the building and march on Carl Albert Parkway.
Contact MJ Brickey by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jeanne LeFlore at email@example.com.
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