By: Erica Byfield
PADUCAH, Ky. - On Thursday, leaders in Paducah officially got together to take a stand against racism. A few weeks ago someone burned an African American flag and stole the American flag; police began investigating the incident as a hate crime.
In front of a group of fifty community members city crews officially replaced both flags. J.W. Cleary officially organized the event says he wanted to replace the African American and the United States flags in Paducah as a positive gesture. "We're not going to let something like this turn us around, it was a negative situation at first our hearts were heavy, sometimes good comes out of negative" said Cleary the NCAAP President.
Cleary invited the young and old participate in the flag changing ceremony "I saw they put up the flag" said Michael Allen a first grader. Cleary believes it is important to let everyone know they are apart of this community and have a stake in Paducah's race relations. "I thought it was great everybody came together to try to fix it. I'm sorry that it happened but it looks like we turned it into a positive event" said Paducah Resident Cynthia Gardner.
Members of the Paducah Tilghman High School Color guard officially raised the new flags. Cleary says he's optimistic this event will prove people in Paducah, no matter their skin color, are willing to work together "the fact of the matter is there is still work that needs to be done and we need to come together as one."