By Jeremy Handel, Staff Writer
The 2020 Presidential Election enhanced a significant political divide across the nation as supporters of the two candidates and their parties passionately expressed their views – even to the extent of protests, unrest, and violence.
Woodruff was not immune to the politically motivated activities, including graffiti in the downtown area and an unsanctioned “parade” through town.
Supporters of President Donald Trump chose to express their support by organizing a parade of vehicles, most displaying “Trump” or “MAGA” signs or flags, through Woodruff in late October. Several vehicles caravanned north on Main Street after gathering south of town.
The event, while resembling a parade, was not a permitted parade through the City of Woodruff. The group followed all posted traffic laws during their travels and therefore was not subject to any sanctions or fines.
City Manager Lee Bailey said that they will occasionally see groups organize rides through town and as long as they obey traffic laws, they are okay to do so. However, to have a sanctioned parade, organizers must file for a permit from the city and provide information on expected size of the event, expected crowd size, ingress/egress points, and any road closures they expect to need. Organizers would also need to pay for police coverage of the event if it’s deemed necessary for traffic control or crowd safety.
In another alleged display of political activism, downtown Woodruff was hit with a rash of graffiti in early November, much of which portrayed “BLM” in the writing. BLM is the acronym for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been calling for police reform and racial equality measures following a number of incidents over the past several years involving police shootings of black men and women.
While the graffiti did portray the BLM moniker, as well as some vulgar anti-Trump messaging, police have not indicated that they suspect the national movement is behind the tags. Woodruff Police continue to investigate the graffiti, which popped up on multiple downtown businesses, the Laurens Road fitness center and rehabilitation facility, and even the City of Woodruff mural on Hayne Street.
Bailey said the city, which is responsible for upkeep of the mural, has been in contact with a company to repair it. Repairs are expected to be completed the week after Thanksgiving. He also said that businesses are responsible for cleaning up their properties in a reasonable amount of time. He added that graffiti is not a common occurrence in Woodruff.