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Fourth of July parade draws ire for reportedly racist content, personal attacks

The Beverly Farms Horribles Parade has carried on for over a century.

A Fourth of July parade on the North Shore criticized multiple times in the past for racist messages and personal attacks on citizens carried on this year, even though it had reportedly been cancelled.

And some of the messages on the floats of this rogue Beverly Farms Horribles Parade were “racist” and “crossed the line of decency and basic kindness,” according to Beverly Mayor Mike Cahill.

The Beverly Farms Horribles parade was reportedly cancelled this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Cahill said a group held one anyway.

“One group displayed a sign targeting two private individuals and by extension their families with a message of hate,” Cahill said on Facebook. “Another group displayed a racist sign that sought to scapegoat an entire group of people. Then, the parade committee sent out an e-mail endorsing and celebrating these actions, further highlighting the racist attack by posting a picture of this sign in their e-mail.”

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The parade has gone on for over a century, according to The Salem News. In 2008, floats made fun of a group of pregnant teenagers in Gloucester who became known as the “pregnancy pact,” Boston Magazine wrote. The Gloucester incident made national news, and so did the parade, where floats referred to the teens as “pregnant tramps” and men wore diapers.

More recently, Cahill has publicly apologized for the parade’s content in 2016 and 2017. A 2016 parade sign read “Gorilla Lives Matter.” The following year, a resident who criticized the parade was the subject of personal attacks on the floats, the Salem News reported.

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The following year, the parade criticized Cahill, and stuck to national news like making fun of President Donald Trump.

“The committee had nothing to do with what went on,” Medley Long, who sits on the Beverly Farms-Prides Crossing Fourth of July Committee, told the News. Long acknowledged the email referenced by Cahill, but said he doesn’t think it condoned the parade, and the makeshift parade was not approved by the group.

In his post, Cahill called the parade content “completely wrong and unacceptable.”

“We cannot watch this overt bullying and racism and be silent. Beverly is a great community, and we all have work to do still,” he said. “Condemning these actions is part of this work.”

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Cahill added that the city plans to have conversations with the public about how to be anti-racist and work on inclusivity. 

City Councilor Julie Flowers also said she was “disappointed” that the parade went on, “and, more than that, that it went ahead with messages and signs that were racist, sexist, and which, in some cases, attacked other private citizens, members of our Beverly community.”

“I am disappointed and angry that this parade went ahead this year – in the face of a public health emergency and also in the face of the real, concrete, and much-needed work that our community and many others are striving to do, right now, to work to be actively anti-racist and to ensure that all members of our Beverly community – and, particularly, our BIPOC members – can feel safe, seen, heard, and valued here in our City,” she said.

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