Pell City boosts security at high school football game after rising racial tension

PELL CITY, Ala (WIAT) — Pell City officials said the number of officers will be doubled at Friday night’s football game against Cullman after a week of racial tension at the high school.

“We’re determined to protect our citizens from anybody that may have intentions otherwise,” explained Mayor Bill Pruitt.

Pruitt said that they aren’t anticipating problems at the game, however; they recognize that some parents and students might have safety concerns.

A large crowd of parents, students, faculty, and community members gathered on the practice field at Pell City High School on Friday morning for a prayer vigil. The vigil was organized after parents met with the school’s administration on Thursday. A Snapchat from an anonymous source threatened African American students and caused enough concern for long lines of parents to check their children out of school.

“You saw the kind of turnout that we had, and this is the real Pell City,” said Pruitt. “Not only that we want everybody else to see–but this was an opportunity for our kids and our parent and our teachers to look around and look at each other and who showed up. It was a chance for us to realize and remember who we are, and we’re not going to let that be defined by somebody hiding behind a computer screen.”

The controversy started in the classroom over a week ago, according to school officials. A black student remained seated during the pledge of allegiance, following a debate about players kneeling at NFL games. There was a confrontation that led to one student being disciplined. School officials did not elaborate on the punishment.

Monday, several students attached American flags to their vehicles and came to school in a caravan. Two students told CBS 42 that they participated, but only to show their patriotism. However, some parents said that the ‘flag parade’ led to retaliation on social media. It reached a boiling point on Wednesday night with the threatening Snapchat.

Law enforcement is working to determine the origin of the threatening messages on social media. They said that there have not been any incidents at the high school.

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