Author: Virginia Martin
Fate of Confederate Monuments Is Stalled by Competing Legal Battles (New York Times)
Hands On Birmingham Taking Nominations for Ignite Awards (Birmingham Business Journal)
Thousands Say Their Final Goodbyes to a Hero (ABC 33/40)
The EPA Superfund cleanup and ABC Coke’s proposed air emissions permit have dominated health concerns of residents in northern Birmingham neighborhoods for months. Now officials and residents of several neighborhoods there are attempting to form a coalition to broaden the concerns to other sources of possible pollution.
The flash point of the new effort is a scrap metal processor’s business license. The license was denied by a unanimous Birmingham City Council vote in March, but the owner successfully appealed the case in Jefferson County Circuit Court, which compelled the city to grant the license.
Catherine Evans, president of the Acipco-Finley Neighborhood Association, and City Councilman John Hilliard led a meeting Saturday of about 30 people, including officers of some other neighborhood associations, to discuss how to proceed after the court decision and how to meet concerns over respiratory illnesses and other health effects possibly related to industrial pollution throughout the largely African-American and low-income area.
Several people at the meeting called attention to the negative health effects of living in the North Birmingham community.
Gwen Webb, president of Inglenook Neighborhood Association, said, “I don’t care what side of town you live on, what organization you belong to, what neighborhood you’re in, we all are affected (by polluted air). I can tell you when I start smelling it, I cannot breathe, and pollution is injustice.” Read more.
EPA Studies Find Air Pollution Is Particularly Dangerous to Vulnerable Populations Such as People of Color and Children
Several recent studies funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirm that air pollution disproportionately affects the health of African Americans and others of color. Three of the studies were highlighted in the December 2018 issue of EM, The Magazine for Environmental Managers. Read more.
Anyone who observes or feels the effects of air pollution can report it to the Jefferson County Department of Health and to the nonprofit group, Gasp. Read more.
Protesters at a Walmart in Hoover chanted “no justice no peace” one night last month as they approached the entrance. There have been several similar demonstrations in the wake of the fatal police shooting of a black man at the Galleria mall on Thanksgiving. At one of those demonstrations, police arrested protest leader Carlos Chaverst. They charged him with disorderly conduct and loitering for wearing a mask. It’s one of the more antiquated laws in Alabama. Over the last decade or so there have been numerous challenges to mask laws across, and many states have added the language “intent to intimidate.” But Alabama’s law includes no such language. Read more.
Birmingham is getting another entertainment district and Fairfield is getting three firefighting vehicles as a result of Tuesday’s Birmingham City Council meeting. The council also voted to approve new committee assignments — a necessary change after last year’s appointment of three new councilors. Read more.
Updated: A Jefferson County judge has voided a state law that protected historical monuments.
Ruling in a case over the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Birmingham’s Linn Park, then-Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Graffeo said that the law essentially forced a pro-Confederacy message on the city of Birmingham.
“Just as the state could not force any particular citizen to post a pro-Confederacy sign in his or her front lawn, so too can the state not commandeer the city’s property for the state’s preferred message.” Read more.
Following a tragic week for Birmingham, Mayor Randall Woodfin delivered his second State of the Community address Monday night. His speech was equal parts elegiac and hopeful, addressing the death of former Mayor Larry Langford and the murder of Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter while casting an optimistic eye toward the future.
“This evening, I come before you in a state of mourning,” he said during his speech. “We’re a city with a broken heart.”
But resilience, Woodfin argued, “is in our DNA,” and after a lengthy prayer from local pastor Terry Drake, he shifted his focus to the accomplishments of his administration’s first year at City Hall. The city, he said is, “writing another chapter in our grand legacy.” Read more.
By Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, WBHM
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute apologized Monday for the way it handled the decision around issuing the Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. Officials canceled the award presentation to human rights activist Angela Davis after it had initially decided to give it to her.
“We acknowledge that the culmination of our decisions and actions has caused division in the community and compromised the good name of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on the world stage,” the board said in a prepared statement. “Regardless of the outcome of our vote, many have rightfully questioned our selection process, which we vow to improve.” Read more.