Words of prayer ask for peaceful weekend rally - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Words of prayer ask for peaceful weekend rally

Al Sharpton will be in Memphis Saturday to lead a protest of the city's Confederate named parks. Not everyone is happy about it.

Groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference are boycotting the event.

Today at a local prayer vigil for unity, it was hard to ignore the parks issue. It was supposed to be a simple prayer vigil for racial harmony to deal with issues broader than the recent parks controversy.

But the parks issue is a hot topic, a weekend showdown involving the Reverend Al Sharpton on the city's Confederate parks is staged for Saturday.

Today people came to pray from all walks of life.

Ray Allen's mother was a founding member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and raised money for the city's Jefferson Davis statue.

"But my interest has changed from hers and I see the opportunity that we have in this community to bring about racial harmony and promote a community of peace and justice and good will," said Allen, a retired minister.

Brenda Hale, who became emotional during her prayer, said she's not sure how the parks issue should be resolved.

"I can understand both sides. I am sympathetic to both sides," said Hale. "I would like to see it resolved peacefully."

SCLC President Dwight Montgomery has a feeling that Al Sharpton will stir things up this weekend and may cause Memphis to take a step backwards.

He says he has no problem with Sharpton in Memphis. He wishes he'd help with issues like Tenncare, crime and education.

"But not for a parks issue which will only, I believe, serve to be divisive," said Montgomery.

Al Sharpton is scheduled to appear at a rally in Forrest Park at 9 a.m. Saturday sponsored by Rainbow/PUSH Coalition of Memphis. A simultaneous rally in support of the parks is planned for for Jefferson Davis Park.

The Memphis Police Department plans to assign at least 60 extra officers for the events.

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