Local LGBTQ community organizers and allies who were looking to establish a chapter of a national LGBTQ support organization in Sparta, North Carolina, received threats and community resistance to establishing a chapter and placing a float in an Independence Day parade. Due to the threats, the organizers requested additional city resources. There was disagreement on what additional security resources were needed. In July 2019, LGBTQ community organizers contacted CRS with concerns that the city only served its straight, white Christian residents. They requested CRS facilitate a dialogue between the parties and communicate their concerns to local law enforcement and local government officials.
CRS traveled to Sparta, North Carolina, in July 2019 to assess and monitor threat and intimidation activity, including social media posts that appeared to threaten gun violence, and to consult with law enforcement officials in their efforts to provide security and assurance to parade participants. Prior to the parade, CRS met with the county and town law enforcement officials to discuss the alleged threats, intimidation, and harassment reported by Sparta’s LGBTQ community organizers. The law enforcement leaders acted on CRS’s suggestion to increase patrols of the float-building site and security during the parade.
Before and after the parade, CRS facilitated communications between federal, county, and town law enforcement officials, local elected officials, and regional and local representatives from a national LGBTQ organization. During the parade, CRS monitored the security measures in place and the interactions between the LGBTQ community organizers, their supporters, and the crowd. The parade proceeded with minimal protest activity and concluded peacefully.
In September 2019, CRS provided mediation services between local elected officials, law enforcement officials, local LGBTQ organizers and local domestic abuse resource center representatives. As a neutral mediator, CRS worked with the groups to discuss issues and concerns regarding establishing a LGBTQ support organization in Sparta and the necessary steps to ensure the chapter could safely form and operate.
During the mediation, CRS first worked with the parties together, then separately, and reconvened the parties for the final agreement.
In the mediation agreement, parties agreed to designate and train a victim witness liaison, establish a school board liaison, publicize meeting opportunities, and invite and sponsor external anti-bullying resources.