PEMBROKE — The executive director of the Lumbee Regional Development Association is ensuring attendees at the annual Lumbee Homecoming that they will be safe following an unsubstantiated threat of violence against Lumbees at Fourth of July events in Robeson County.
“We have been doing this event for 48 years,” said James Hardin. “History is on our side. … We have been blessed to have never had any kind of serious situation up to this point in the history of Lumbee Homecoming.”
According to Pembroke Police Chief Grant Florita, the threat referred to setting off explosives or shooting Lumbees at events over the holiday weekend, but law enforcement has found no evidence to suggest an attack will happen.
“Each report has been thoroughly evaluated with all resources available. No reports have been validated at this time,” Stephanie Chavis, Robeson County’s director of Emergency Management, said in a statement Thursday.
Although rumors began circulating on Facebook earlier this week about a person being charged with plotting to bomb Lumbee Homecoming, officials say no arrests have been made and no weapons have been found in connection with such a plot. Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said that officials had not been able to locate anyone who directly heard the threat being made.
Still, officials are taking the threat seriously with an abundance of caution. Hardin said there will an increased law enforcement presence at remaining Homecoming events, as well as a private security firm that has worked the event in recent years.
“LRDA has been in constant coordination and communication with law enforcement entities that have traditionally worked Lumbee Homecoming over many, many years. We have full faith and confidence with what they have presented to us at this point and we have full confidence that people who do choose to come out will be safe,” Hardin said. “We encourage the community not to be swayed by gossip and rumors.”
Saturday’s homecoming events kick off with the 35th annual Lumbee Homecoming 5K Run and Fun Walk, sponsored by the Pembroke Kiwanis Club, at 7:15 a.m. The race honors former Congressman Mike McIntyre and his efforts toward full recognition for the Lumbee Tribe.
Following the race, a ceremony will be held honoring McIntyre at 1 p.m. in the Annex Building at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The public is invited to the free event.
The Homecoming parade begins at 10 a.m. Vendors are set up on the quad at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where a powwow will be held at noon.
The celebration closes out with an outdoor gospel concert beginning at 6 p.m. at the LRDA office complex, followed by a fireworks show at 9 p.m.
Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.