WJTV News Channel 12 - Hope Mills police chief says 'Picaninny' sign not a hate crime

Hope Mills police chief says 'Picaninny' sign not a hate crime

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HOPE MILLS, N.C. -

The Hope Mills chief of police says a controversial image seen on a Fourth of July parade float does not qualify as a hate crime.

The float initially came under fire when parade watchers took offense to two tractors that flew Confederate battle flags behind them. One of the tractors also pulled a trailer full of watermelons with a sign that read, "WHITE HISTORY MONTH HUG WTE PPL."

A historical advertisement was also affixed to the front of the trailer, depicting a caricature of a black child eating a watermelon along with the words "Picaninny Freeze" and "A pal for your palate."

Police Chief Joel Acciardo said Thursday that the "Picaninny" sign does not qualify as a hate crime.

"While something may be in poor taste, the general rule is that it would have to be used in connection to a crime," said Acciardo.

He says this is an issue for local leaders, and since it is not a crime, Acciardo says he does not have anything else to say about the signs.

According to photos from the Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce, this was not the first year the advertisement was used in a July 4 parade.

In 2011, a trailer carrying watermelons also featured the same "Picaninny" sign along with a flag that is an amalgamation of the Confederate battle flag and North Carolina state flag.

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