Category: Public Safety

Hundreds Gather in Birmingham to Celebrate Juneteenth

Hundreds of people gathered at Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park on Friday to commemorate Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery.

Onoyemi Williams is with the group Alabama Rally Against Injustice. She said after weeks of protests and demonstrations, today is a celebration of Black lives.

“Because when you’re at war, you must take the time for self care and celebration,” she said. “We’re celebrating where we’re at so we can prepare for where we have to go.” Read more.

The Murals of Downtown Birmingham Transform Vandalized Streetscapes to Avenues of Hope

The cleanup and restoration of downtown Birmingham continues as more murals are painted on plywood used to secure buildings vandalized almost two weeks ago after a protest.

Saturday morning, people are being invited to the Alabama Theatre, where they can get paint and go around painting their handprints on each of the large murals lining the sidewalks, according to Mary Jean Baker LaMay, one of the organizers of BHAM Cleanup.

The Love mural above, by Véronique Vanblaere, is one of many painted this week, adding to artistry begun after the May 31 demonstration. See the photo display.

Jones Says Systemic Racism is Part of a Crisis Trifecta the Country Faces

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said today that the nation is in the midst of a “crisis trifecta” from the pandemic, the economic crisis and the battle for equal rights and treatment, and black Americans are disproportionately affected by each of those.

Jones spoke during a Facebook live video conference with Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

“The events of the past few weeks have laid bare the fact that structural and systemic inequality exist in almost every layer of society in the United States of America,” Jones said. “We are in what I have called a crisis trifecta — from the coronavirus pandemic, to the economic crisis and the moral awakening of so many people in this country to the fact that there are so many of our brothers and sisters who are still being denied equal opportunities, equal rights and equal dignities.” 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.

Protestors Ask Birmingham Council to ‘Defund the Police’

Approximately 50 protestors gathered outside Birmingham City Hall during Tuesday morning’s City Council meeting, but most weren’t allowed inside due to concerns over social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, their voices, sometimes amplified through bullhorns, could be faintly heard throughout the meeting from outside, even as Mayor Randall Woodfin promised to “soon share a closer look at the processes and procedures at the Birmingham Police Department, including training and disciplinary actions for officers, adjustments within Internal Affairs and more.”

The voices outside were calling for a much larger step to be taken: for the City Council to “defund the police.” Read more.

Birmingham Requires Face Coverings Through July 3

Birmingham has extended its face covering ordinance through July 3. The ordinance requires all Birmingham residents to wear face coverings in public places to slow the spread of COVID-19. Read more.

Mayor Lifts Birmingham’s Curfew and Protest Ban at Midnight

Birmingham’s public safety curfew and state of emergency will expire tonight, a week after they were enacted by Mayor Randall Woodfin in response to violent protests in the city’s downtown area.

“I want to thank the people of Birmingham for uniting and working together during this challenging time,” Woodfin said in a statement Monday. Both the curfew and the state of emergency will end at 11:59 p.m.

The curfew prevented residents (excepting essential workers) from leaving their homes between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The state of emergency had established a 24-hour ban on public demonstrations and gatherings of all kinds in the city. Read more.

Social Distancing Versus Social Statement: Doctors Worry Protests Could Spread Coronavirus but Say Racism is Deadly, Too

Social distancing has taken a backseat to social statements the past week as persons have assembled in large numbers to protest the death of George Floyd and to call for change.

But state health officials worry that the combination of crowds and the coronavirus could greatly amplify COVID-19 cases in Alabama and the U.S. They urge people to remain mindful of social distancing, hygiene and face covering recommendations as they assemble.

Dr. Karen Landers, assistant state health officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said she and others in her department are deeply concerned and saddened about the death of George Floyd. And they say persons have the right to peaceful assembly to express their individual and collective opinions.

“But we do remain concerned when there’s a congregate group of any size for any reason, and social distancing measures are not taking place,” Landers said. “It concerns me as a physician to see people that are in large groups that aren’t taking any measures.” Read more.