Category: City of Birmingham

Woodfin Won’t Resign in Controversy Over Police Shooting

Mayor Randall Woodfin said he will not resign despite Black Lives Matter Birmingham’s calls for him to do so following last month’s police killing of Desmon Montez Ray Jr.

Ray, 28, was killed by police on Easter Sunday as they responded to a domestic dispute call in north Birmingham. After a chase, officers say Ray fired a gun at police as he exited his vehicle; they returned fire, killing him.

After criticism from Ray’s family and local activists, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick D. Smith released three videos — from officers’ body cameras and a neighbor’s security camera — showing the shooting.

On Monday, Black Lives Matter Birmingham called the release of the videos “unacceptable.” Read more.

Birmingham Agrees to Sell Old Ensley High to Be Redeveloped as 244-Unit Housing

Plans are moving forward to redevelop the former Ensley High School property as a 244-unit housing development. The Birmingham City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday selling the campus, which has been abandoned since 2006, to the North Carolina-based Zimmerman Properties for $50,000.

The city also will provide incentives for the project in the form of a grant of up to $1.5 million, some of which will come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Home Investment Partnerships Program. Read more.

Local, Federal Officials Launch Partnership to Reduce Gun Violence in Birmingham

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin launched a collaborative effort with federal and local law enforcement agencies to put an end to the city’s growing gun violence problem. The partnership, announced Friday, imposes stiff penalties for people who have unauthorized guns. Officials called on the community to help make the city safer by providing information on people who may be involved in criminal activity. Read more.

Erasing the Stain: 15,000 Pardoned of Marijuana Possession Convictions

Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday announced the pardons of more than 15,000 Birmingham residents convicted of marijuana possession, declaring that “one small mistake should not define an entire lifetime.”

The pardons — which were announced April 20, an unofficial holiday celebrating cannabis — covers residents with closed marijuana possession cases in the Birmingham Municipal Court between 1990 and 2020.

The pardons are part of Woodfin’s Pardons for Progress program, launched in November 2019, which was meant to remove employment barriers for people who had been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession. Read more.

Redevelopment of Southtown as Mixed-Use Property to Begin in June

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to rezone the Southtown Court housing project, making way for a mixed-use redevelopment of the property.

Now designated a “mixed-use downtown” district, the property, near St. Vincent’s Birmingham, will be transformed into a development that includes multi-family residential, hotel, office, retail/dining, medical office, parking garage and open space uses. Developers intend to turn the property into a “pedestrian-friendly corridor,” including pocket parks, green spaces and bike lanes.

Plans to redevelop the property, near where a 455-unit housing project now stands have existed in some form since at least 2008. Read more.

Bill Would Cut Pensions for Future Birmingham Employees, Raise Employee Contributions

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin is supporting a bill in the Legislature that would both compel the city to fully fund its pension obligation and increase employee contributions to the pension fund by half a percent. The bill would be Woodfin’s latest step toward correcting the city’s longtime underfunding of the city’s pension plan, which he warned could cause a future financial crisis for the city.

HB510 is sponsored by Rep. Allen Treadaway, R-Morris, who was the Woodfin-appointed assistant chief of the Birmingham Police Department from 2018 until his retirement in October. Read more.

Lighting Up the Night Again

The neon sign for the historic A.G. Gaston Motel was lit Tuesday night in a ceremony marking the end of phase 1 of the site’s restoration. Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin attended along with representatives from the city and the National Park Service. “The A.G. Gaston motel sign served as a beacon to black families traveling through the segregated South,” Woodfin said. “It’s a sign that will now shine in remembrance of Dr. A.G. Gaston’s legacy – a legacy of black prosperity, equal opportunity, Southern hospitality and freedom.” The motel was used frequently by civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as they strategized their campaigns against injustice. Restoration of the 1958 wing of the hotel has been completed. Work to restore the 1968 wing and courtyard is next, with a projected completion date of June 2022. (Photo from City of Birmingham Facebook video)

Federal COVID-19 Rent and Utilities Assistance Set for Birmingham Residents

The City of Birmingham has received nearly $6.3 million in federal funding to assist residents who are unable to pay rent and utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding comes as part of a $25 billion program from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which began allocating money to states, territories, local governments and Indian tribes last month.

Funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance program was approved by the City Council during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting. It was initially announced last month by Mayor Randall Woodfin, who said his administration had made the funding a “priority.”
Read more.