MORRISVILLE, Pa. (AP) — An eastern Pennsylvania youth baseball league may have to call off games this weekend because two groups on either side of the gun control debate plan to hold opposing rallies in a community park that’s also home to the league’s baseball diamonds.
Morrisville Little League president Dan O’Connell said he’s not taking a side — other than that he’s unhappy that the events planned for Saturday at Williamson Park in Morrisville are large enough that authorities have asked to have games cancelled.
O’Connell said Monday his organization has been holding games in the park for 60 years and he hopes the groups will reconsider the timing of their rallies.
“It’s enough for children to be impacted and hear this stuff on the news,” said O’Connell. He said he learned of the rallies late last week.
A group advocating for universal background checks first scheduled its event and obtained a permit. An opposing group planned to counter.
A Morrisville code enforcement officer told the Bucks County Courier Times the BuxMont Chapter of the Coalition for Peace Action had the proper permits to use the park.
Rev. Bob Moore, the executive director for the coalition’s office in Princeton, N.J., said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell was scheduled to take part in the event billed as the “Pre-Mother’s Day Gathering, March & Rally vs. Gun Violence.”
The rally is scheduled to begin in Trenton, N.J. with a march across the Trenton Makes Bridge into Pennsylvania, where it would conclude with the rally at Williamson Park. The permit is for 200 people, Moore said.
The group wasn’t made aware there were Little League games in the park when it applied for a permit, Moore said. When asked if the group would consider rescheduling, Moore said in part it wouldn’t be fair because of the roughly $1,000 invested in the event, and extensive planning.
He blamed opponents for what he called a planned disruption of their gathering.
“We’ve been planning this for months,” Moore said. “We don’t go to the NRA’s events and counter-protest. We don’t harass them.”
On its website, the group Concerned Gun Owners of Bucks County posted information about a “Second Amendment Preservation & Gun Control Protest Rally” for Saturday afternoon on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge. A flyer for the rally said attendees would hear from speaker and then “peacefully meet and mingle with the gun control groups.”
The Associated Press left an email message Monday on the group’s website.
O’Connell said he had heard from a couple people planning to attend the opposing rally that it would be peaceful. O’Connell also said he’s been informed that it’s illegal to carry a weapon in the park.
On Monday night, O’Connell was in the midst of considering alternatives for Saturday’s roughly 25 games, which usually run into the evening since the league invested in lights for the field.
The league might be able to play morning games before ending early, at 1 p.m., because of the rallies, he said.
A spokesman for Little League International in South Williamsport said an official had been in touch with the local league and offered any logistical help if needed.
O’Connell said he has nothing against either side, but that the events may deprive children of a day on the field.
“Let the kids have their park,” he said.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)