ARLINGTON - Protesters are calling for a boycott of a parade honoring Martin Luther King Jr. because of the involvement of Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Abbott has been named the honorary Grand Marshal of the North Texas MLK Parade, a new event planned in Arlington. The parade is intended to become an annual tradition, bringing five North Texas counties together on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
But activists say the governor's participation has led them to boycott or protest the event.
"We definitely will protest this event if he is not removed," said activist Dominique Alexander, who held a press conference outside Arlington City Hall on Monday.
Abbott spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said Abbott will attend the parade to honor the life and legacy of King.
"It's a shame that some are politicizing what should be a unifying event," Matthews said in a statement. "Governor Abbott's participation will be focused on the remembrance of a man who made an important mark on history, and he looks forward to attending this event."
The Arlington Chapter of the NAACP also opposes the governor's involvement.
"We support a collective protest against a Governor whose past legislative actions are viewed as an attack on the civil rights of all," the chapter said in a statement.
While Abbott is participating, other officials and candidates will not, and some criticized the North Texas MLK Parade organizers for what they say is misinformation.
Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson released a statement saying that she was never planning on riding in the parade, despite claims by the organizers. She said she learned of her supposed involvement in a media report.
Reached by phone today, parade organizer Winsor Barbee would not clarify who invited Abbott to participate and said she was aware of the planned boycott.
"Bottom line, the parade is going on as planned," Barbee said.
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