Hamlet City Manager Jonathan Blanton published an open letter to the citizens of Hamlet and the surrounding communities yesterday on the city’s Facebook page, defending the city’s decision to cancel July 4 festivities. Below is the complete transcript of that letter:
As the City Manager of Hamlet, I want to directly speak to the concerns that have been expressed on social media, to our law enforcement officers, to our City Council, and to me directly over the last twenty-four hours in regards to the cancellation of the City’s Fourth of July activities.
As you all know, last week an apparent gang-related shooting occurred at the Circle B convenient store here in Hamlet that resulted in the tragic death of Tierrell Martin. Since that time, local law enforcement agencies received four reports, all similar in nature, that advised the City that serious acts of violence, specifically random shootings, were being planned at the City’s Fourth of July festivities. On Monday morning, I met with the Hamlet Police Department to evaluate the reported threats and to assess the credibility of the reports. After evaluating the weight of the evidence, discussing all possible options, and conferring with city officials, I made the recommendation to cancel the Fourth of July activities.
This decision was not entered into abruptly, haphazardly, or as a result of submitting to fear, but instead as a result of the City’s continued commitment to keeping our citizens and community safe. The City could not, in good conscience, ignore four separate, serious, and credible reports that specifically named the Fourth of July festivities as the location of a planned shooting less than a week after a homicide within a mile and a half of the planned events. As Police Chief Scott Waters said yesterday, given the magnitude of the event, with people spread across multiple locations in the City to view the fireworks display, no amount of police presence would guarantee safety for all those attending. Please be assured that all alternatives were explored, all options were considered, and although this decision was difficult and unpopular, I assure you, it was necessary.
I share in the great disappointment and frustration of all of you. The City has spent a significant amount of time and energy planning the events for the Fourth of July this year and no one is more disappointed in the circumstances than we are. However, please be assured that your concerns, voices, and input have been heard by the City and by me personally. There has been much concern about the vagueness of the City’s Facebook post and press release yesterday, and I apologize for any confusion that may have been caused and I understand your concerns. However, the Facebook post and press release were both published in an attempt to spread the news that the events were cancelled in the quickest and most concise manner possible, and to protect the integrity of on-going investigations into the communicated threats. The City is firmly committed to transparency, honesty, and an open-form of communication with our citizens and community and that is why I am personally writing to all of you today.
Our Mayor, Bill Bayless, said it best yesterday when he said, “It is always best to err on the side of safety even when we know that we should not be intimidated.” Although we cannot live in fear, we certainly cannot risk the lives of thousands of innocent people when we have credible intel beforehand that can be used to prevent the death or injury of a child, parent, family-member, or friend. I apologize for the great inconvenience this may have caused many of you, but I sincerely ask for your cooperation, understanding, and prayers for the City as we strive to protect and serve you, the wonderful people that make Hamlet your home.