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Rain on a parade
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Rain on a parade

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It would be easy to understand if organizers of a Juneteenth parade scheduled in Dothan on June 19 are dissatisfied with a Dothan City Commission decision to deny a permit for the parade to be held along Main Street.

They’d planned a route along lesser-traveled roadways near the Dothan Civic Center where other events to mark the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves will be held. When participation in the Juneteenth celebration grew, the organizing group, Tri-State Expo, sought to move the parade to one of the city’s main arteries — the same roadway that is shut down for hours one Saturday each fall for the National Peanut Festival parade.

During some special events downtown, police often set up at the intersection with Foster Street and repeatedly stop Main Street traffic to allow crowds to move between events along Foster.

In a 3-2 vote, the commission balked at the request for the Juneteenth parade, citing insufficient interest, the potential costs of police and medical services, and a municipal ordinance that bars parades along Main Street with the exception of the annual NPF parade and parades marking Christmas and Veterans Day, neither of which have been held in recent memory.

An attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union, who represented Tri-State Expo in the matter, described the lack of particular criteria as “unconstitutional.”

That may or may not be true — but it is far from objective, and can create a perception of discriminatory governing.

Commissioners should take the opportunity to create specific requirements for a parade permit in Dothan, including guidance for thoroughfares and side streets, and ensure every applicant is held to the same regulations and requirements.

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