Lanett discusses national crisis

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 3, 2020

LANETT — The nationwide peaceful protests and nighttime violence following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota is filtering down to towns like Lanett.

“It’s affecting small towns,” Fire & EMS Chief Johnny Allen said at Monday’s meeting of the Lanett City Council. “One of our employees is in the National Guard. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers. He’s been called up. They told him he had an hour and 45 minutes to be in Montgomery. I want you all to think about my guy when he’s away.”

The young man being called up is Nick Parrish. He’s a fire medic with the LFD and a sergeant with the MP division of the Alabama Army National Guard.

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He’s likely to be on duty at a metro location in the state, possibly Birmingham or Mobile. Parrish is in his late twenties and has been with Lanett for close to 10 years. He has some young children.

Council Member Angelia Thomas wore a t-shirt proclaiming “My Black Sons’ Lives Matter.”

As a loving mom, she’s constantly worried bout her three grown sons. Marctavious, 30, and Terrance, 23, live in the Valley area, and Devuntae, 27, lives in Atlanta.

Council Member Tony Malone termed George Floyd’s death “a modern-day lynching.”

“It set off protests around the world,” Malone said. “That’s okay but don’t burn down businesses that had nothing to do with it. We definitely don’t need that in Lanett. We do need equal justice under the law regardless of one’s skin color. We need that everywhere. We want justice, but we don’t want any of the violence and destruction we have seen.”

“Let’s not forget that we are in a pandemic,” Thomas said. “Let’s continue with the hand-washing, sanitizing and social distancing. Peaceful protesting is okay but is being overshadowed by the vandalism and looting. I think we have great police officers here in Lanett, but most people will never know of the conversations I have had with my sons over the years. I have talked to them about how to carry themselves when stopped by the police. They’ve been stopped before for minor things and have never been charged. I just don’t want to hear of a situation where their car is on the side of the road for two hours.”

Thomas said that peaceful protesting is a right and should be done as long as it doesn’t lead to violence and property destruction.

“Black lives matter, especially the lives of young black men,” she said.

Thomas added that she’d like to see anxiety and frustration expressed in a positive, productive way such as cleaning your own yard.

“Let’s keep our city clean and litter-free,” she said. “Let’s start this at our own front door and continue through the yard. We want to live in a city that’s clean and litter-free, a place that will be attractive to people who visit.”