Public Safety

George Floyd’s Death Has Stirred Sympathy and Outrage in Diverse Groups From Birmingham to Hoover

A salon owner had this mural painted in downtown Birmingham as the salon is repaired after Sunday night’s protests. The mural, which honors George Floyd, was defaced by Thursday morning but restored by Thursday afternoon. (Source: Tom Gordon)

People across Birmingham and its southern suburbs gathered Thursday to honor George Floyd and protest his death at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

In Mountain Brook, hundreds of protestors sat on the ground and covered their noses and mouths for more than eight minutes, the length of time Floyd laid on the ground with an officer’s knee on the side of his throat. The scene resembled another carried out in Homewood earlier in the week.

Groups have gathered in Hoover almost every day since Saturday. Most days demonstrations have been conducted in the area in front of City Hall to protest not just Floyd’s death, but also the death of E.J. Bradford on Thanksgiving night 2018 at the Galleria.

Lt. Keith Czeskleba, public information officer for the Hoover Police Department, said police have made 63 arrests at those protests, most of those for disorderly conduct. One officer had facial injuries and other officers were struck by thrown objects.

Thursday, people from area churches gathered at the Hoover Met to pray for healing in race relations. The Hoover Sun reported that pastors from two black churches backed out of the event because of rumors that swirled Thursday about white supremacist groups threatening violence at protests.

Those rumors caused more angst as they spread in downtown Birmingham Thursday and led several businesses, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to shut down earlier than usual.

Mayor Randall Woodfin dismissed the rumors in a video address Thursday afternoon and said his curfew would continue to be strictly enforced by police. That curfew includes a lockdown of public property and roadways from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and a 24-hour ban on all public gatherings on public property; but an exception was added to allow for permitted protestors to gather between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in W.C. Patton Park, in eastern Birmingham. Woodfin has speculated that curfew might be lifted Monday.

Woodfin also has said his office will work with groups who want to organize protests. “We can help facilitate that,” he said. “We can give you a time, give you a place, give you logistics and operation and make sure there is security and police.”

Birmingham placed a fence around Linn Park June 4, 2020, to discourage protests and because of concerns about public safety. (Source: Sam Prickett)

A group of protestors did gather on the street beside Linn Park in downtown Thursday afternoon, but most of them left after the curfew began at 7 p.m. Protestors have been blocked from gathering in that park and in Linn Park by fencing the city erected Thursday.

More protests are coming for downtown and the suburbs.

Friday, the Alabama Rally Against Injustice is planning another protest at 4 p.m. in front of the Vestavia Hills City Hall.

A Black Lives Matter protest that had been planned for Thursday was rescheduled for Saturday because of safety concerns, WBHM has reported.

ARAI also plans a rally Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Hoover Public Library.