May Day organizer reacts to criticism, is upset at some LEO presence

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 18, 2017

A local community leader in Opp’s district 4 is fired up on two fronts after this past weekend’s May day celebration.

Aaron Bogen, who helps organize May Day and represents the local NAACP chapter, said that there had been some criticism this week over the organization of the event and he also felt some law enforcement groups targeted the black community during the event. Bogen made it clear that his beef is not with the Opp Police Department.

“They did what they said they would do, and were directing traffic,” he said. “But it was everybody else – the sheriff’s office, the DTF, investigators, you name it.”

Opp Police Chief Mike McDonald said that he asked four state troopers to assist with patrolling the perimeter of Opp and he asked the drug task force to come and help.

“I asked the drug task force and deputies to help with the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo, as well,” he said. “Everyone I asked to come came. We had no major incidents, and I thought it went well, just like the Rattlesnake Rodeo.”

Bogen said that the May Day celebration is held each year in Opp’s District on Mother’s Day weekend to celebrate African American’s freedom from slavery.

“We want to encourage our kids about our ancestors since they don’t really teach it in school,” he said. “This is a celebration not an event, and everyone in Opp knows when the event is.”

Bogen said they began planning the event months in advance.

He even addressed the Opp City Council earlier this year to ask to meet with the city to ensure that everything went off without a hitch.

Bogen, Mayor Becky Bracke, Opp Police Chief Mike McDonald, Assistant Chief Kevin Chance, members of the Opp City Council and the parks and recreation team got together to communicate on what was going on.

Bogen said that the crowd at May Day acted properly, but that he doesn’t understand why some officers were harassing people.

“Everyone was acting right,” he said. “But they want to ask why we are driving nice cars. We work for al living to have nice things.”

Despite the criticism and alleged harassment, Bogen said the crowd was smaller than usual, but they had a good ball turnout.

“We played ball until around 11,” he said. “I want to thank the mayor of Opp. The celebration was good other than too much police presence.”