Michael Vick to speak to local youth Friday, community split on - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Michael Vick to speak to local youth Friday, community split on visit

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NFL star quarterback Michael Vick will visit local youth football players Friday in Shreveport.

He will be in town to host the "Michael Vick Comedy Explosion" being held at The Strand Theatre Saturday night. The New York Jets quarterback will talk with young players at Independence Stadium while local high school coaches conduct a football clinic.

He is expected to stress the importance of making positive decisions on and off the field. More than 200 children are expected to attend the event.

“I look forward to coming to Shreveport,” Vick said in a news release. “Every child that steps on a football field has a dream. At any skill level, we need to invest time, talent and energy in our youth."

"Great things will come as a result,” he added.

"I am delighted that Michael Vick has reached out to engage the youth of our area,” Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover said. “I truly believe that he has a compelling and empowering story to share."

Not everyone, however, is happy about Vick's planned visit.

Local animal activists announced last month that they plan to protest Vick's event at The Strand. Vick served time in federal prison for dog fighting. Hundreds of people joined the Facebook group and say they plan to attend the protest, pending permit approval.

"In his soul there is something wrong, and I don't believe that's something you can pay your way out of and expect people to forget it," said animal activist and musician Robin Beach Black in a previous interview.

Another group plans to have a "Forgiveness Rally" for Vick at 5 p.m. Saturday at The Strand. This group, made up of local churches and businesses, said they became concerned when they saw a number of hateful comments online about the event.

“Hatred, in all of its forms, is wrong,” said Pastor Slyvester Mitchell of The Prayer Church in a news release. “Michael Vick has followed up his words with his actions. Anyone who seeks to contribute to society in a positive way is welcome to Shreveport.”

Registration forms for Friday's clinic are available at SPAR's Athletic Office, located at 7401 Jewella Ave., or on-site before the event. Call (318) 673-7748 for more information

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