Category: City of Birmingham

Black Lives Matter Message Rolls Over Downtown Birmingham Street

Shawn Fitzwater admits he had little hope of his suggestion of a “Black Lives Matter” street mural coming to fruition.
“Really,” the professional painter said today, “not at all.”

But the suggestion from Fitzwater and another individual will likely be a reality by the end of today. Work began Wednesday on the street mural, on First Avenue South between 16th and 17th Streets, where “Black Lives” has been painted in bright yellow paint.

Today, the final word of the phrase is going into place as a second coat is applied to the first two words. The aim is to complete the project in time for Juneteenth festivities in Birmingham. Read more.

City of Birmingham Facing ‘Economic Crisis’ Over Falling Revenue From Pandemic

Birmingham can expect an $18.3 million budgetary shortfall for the 2020 fiscal year because of the pandemic, Finance Director Lester Smith told the City Council Tuesday. And he warned that the economic impact on the city’s FY 2021 budget could be nearly four times that.

Mayor Randall Woodfin, calling the situation an “economic crisis,” said that the dip in revenue means “painful” budget cuts are likely on the way.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the city’s subsequent “shelter-in-place” order led to a significant drop in business tax revenue for the city, Smith said. That revenue, which includes sales, use and occupational taxes, typically accounts for 81.3% of the city’s overall budget. 
Read more.

“FunnyMaine” Charged With Inciting a Riot Over May 31 Incident

Jermaine “FunnyMaine” Johnson, the Birmingham comedian who spoke at a rally in Kelly Ingram Park and told protestors he was headed to Linn Park to “tear something down,” has been charged with inciting a riot after that demonstration escalated into violence and vandalism.

The charge is a Class A misdemeanor, which could carry a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $6,000. According to media reports, Johnson surrendered to Birmingham police, posted a $500 bond and was not imprisoned.

Emory Anthony, Johnson’s attorney, told reporters that his client was not guilty. Read more.

Birmingham Conducting Review of Police Department Procedures, Could Make Changes to Operate in Post-George Floyd World

In a Wednesday morning press conference, Mayor Randall Woodfin sketched out plans for how the Birmingham Police Department will proceed “in a post-George Floyd world.”

Those plans, he said, involve a 30-day internal review and the formation of a community safety task force that will perform a “90-day deeper dive into all our BPD rules and procedures.” Any “gaps between what we do now and best practices,” he said, would be addressed via executive order.

“Everything is on the table,” he said. Read more.

Woodfin Adds Exception to Demonstration Ban

Mayor Randall Woodfin has walked back his total ban on public gatherings and demonstrations in Birmingham, allowing permitted demonstrations in one park in the North Avondale neighborhood. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Woodfin said his office would allow permitted demonstrations to take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in W.C. Patton Park, at 1200 Sipsey Street. “We want to balance the right to assembly with the absolute need for public safety,” Woodfin said in the statement. Read more.

More stories on the protests in Birmingham:

Curfews Imposed Across Birmingham Area Over Protests
Jefferson County Sets Curfew to Curb Violence
Confederate Monument Taken Down in Linn Park
Cleanup Begins After Looting Damages Downtown Birmingham Businesses
Birmingham Protestors Vandalize Downtown Buildings, Try to Take Down Confederate Monument

Woodfin Says He Received Death Threats After Removal of Monument

Responding to questions this morning on the NBC Today show, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said he received death threats in response to his order to take down a Confederate monument in the wake of destructive protests Sunday night.

“Unfortunately, in the state of Alabama, there’s a lot of people who like to participate in revisionist history,” Woodfin said, speaking with host Al Roker. “They believe it’s American to support the Civil War as relates to these competitive monuments. They’re mad because we took the statue down and, yes, there have been several threats.
Read more.

Curfews Imposed Across Birmingham Area Over Protests

Birmingham finished removing the base of the Confederate monument in Linn Park this morning after working for more than 24 hours to take down the structure that had become a lightning rod for racial protest in the city.

Mayor Randall Woodfin agreed to remove the monument after a crowd of protestors were drawn to the park Sunday night to try to topple it. They covered it in graffiti and chipped out chunks of it, along with taking down another statue and defacing two more. As they left the park, they set small fires and smashed windows of some downtown businesses.

In reaction, Birmingham and other cities on Tuesday declared and extended curfews aimed at shutting down such violent protests.

Woodfin announced he was expanding the city’s curfew, covering the period of 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., to include a 24-hour prohibition on “gatherings, parades, marches and demonstrations … on any public property or public street.” The Jefferson County Commission also issued a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. through June 9, affecting unincorporated areas of the county and any cities that want to apply it. Read more.

More stories on the protests in Birmingham:
Jefferson County Sets Curfew to Curb Violence
Confederate Monument Taken Down in Linn Park
Birmingham Mayor Sets out Curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Cleanup Begins After Looting Damages Downtown Birmingham Businesses
Birmingham Protestors Vandalize Downtown Buildings, Try to Take Down Confederate Monument
Protesters Gather in Birmingham to Honor George Floyd

Confederate Monument Removed From Linn Park — Mostly

All that’s left of the Confederate memorial in downtown Birmingham’s Linn Park is a graffiti-covered base.
The obelisk was taken apart and loaded onto a flatbed truck Monday night, a day after it sparked protests and looting of nearby businesses. Mayor Randall Woodfin had promised to remove the monument by Tuesday to stop any more of the violent reactions like those seen Sunday night. Read more.

More on the protests in Birmingham
Confederate Monument Taken Down in Linn Park
Birmingham Mayor Sets out Curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Cleanup Begins After Looting Damages Downtown Birmingham Businesses
Birmingham Protestors Vandalize Downtown Buildings, Try to Take Down Confederate Monument
Protesters Gather in Birmingham to Honor George Floyd

Birmingham Delays Budget Talks to Determine COVID-19’s Damage to City Coffers; Mayor Warns Next Year Could Be Austere

Birmingham’s FY 2021 budget will be delayed for three months as the city works to ascertain the financial impact of COVID-19.

Mayor Randall Woodfin told the City Council on Tuesday morning that the city could take a $75 million to $110 million hit to next year’s budget because of losses in revenues from sources such as sales, use and occupational taxes. He hopes delaying the budgeting process will give city leaders more time to understand the extent of the damage.

“Adjustments to an operational budget of our size to offset this amount of deficit would require major reductions and austerity measures to our current cost structures,” Woodfin said. Read more.