CULLMAN, Ala. – Members of Spring Hill Baptist Church, along with members from several other churches, will be at Depot Park Saturday at 8 a.m. for a peaceful prayer walk. Members will walk along the streets in small groups.
Spring Hill Pastor Terry Blankenship said, “We’re just saturating the place with prayer.”
Blankenship said he was recently notified by Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism Executive Director Nathan Anderson that the group would not be able to gather at the park for any demonstration as it is currently fenced and locked with gates not opening until 9 a.m. However, after discussing the issue and discovering the event would not be a large group, the group will still be allowed to participate in the walk around the perimeter.
“We’re not gathering as a group,” said Blankenship. “We’re trying to be as discreet as we can. We feel like prayer is more important than anything else that can be done.”
As for the reason for the event, he stated, “We’re praying for our county and our city.”
He invited any others who may want to join in prayer for the leaders of the county.
Blankenship noted that the event is unrelated to the upcoming Cullman Comes Out event taking place Oct. 8.
“This prayer walk has been planned for months and is simply a prayer for our great state, county and city that we love,” said Blankenship.
The group was informed that if the event develops into a demonstration, protest, rally, etc., participants would be asked to disperse as they would be required to go through the process of obtaining a special event permit from the City of Cullman.
Cullman Comes Out event
As for the Cullman Comes Out event set for a week later, Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper said, “Anybody that’s disruptive to the permit holder would be asked to leave.”
The police department will be present to make sure the event stays orderly.
If there are any protesters present that refuse to disperse, they will receive a misdemeanor citation for violating the ordinance for not obtaining a special event permit.
Culpepper noted that it would be considered picketing to have signage on City property, and that would require a permit.
He shared that the police presence at the event Oct. 8 will depend on how the department anticipates things will go, saying, “Normally in an event, what I like to do is be as low profile as possible so that you’re not appearing to be heavy handed or oppressive with your response, but at the same time if there are people saying, ‘We are coming to protest,’ and you know that you’ll want to keep these two groups separated, then we’d ramp it up.”
Special event permit applications can be found at http://cullmanal.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/SEPRF-August-2022-v-2022-6.pdf.
When approving special event permits, municipalities must maintain neutral viewpoints, meaning the governing body cannot decide approval or rejection based on the content or viewpoints of the event as long as the event does not promote any illegal activity.
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