Protestors Talk With Hoover Officials About Ensuring Equality in the City

(Source: Yumi Kimura, Wikimedia Commons)

Updated – Protestors were optimistic after leaving meeting with Hoover city officials recently to discuss steps the city could take to improve race relations in Hoover. They suspended protests of the police shooting of E.J. Bradford, saying an agreement had been reached with the city.

However, the city did not formally agree with recommendations from the Birmingham Justice League, and protests began again at the Galleria this weekend, albeit at smaller scale.

Two people were arrested at the Galleria while protesting this past weekend, and league co-founder Carlos Chaverst was banned from the Galleria for a year.

Both groups have said that they wanted to work on broader issues of equality in the city in the wake of the shooting. City officials met with protestors last week, and protestors provided a list of steps it recommended the city take:

  • Establish a citizens’ review board.
  • Make changes in the Hoover Police Department based on any findings by outside investigations of procedural decisions or unethical actions in Bradford’s shooting.
  • Put the Hoover Police Department through an accreditation process to determine whether it follows nationally accepted “best practices.”
  • Conduct an independent review of minority complaints regarding traffic stops.
  • Grant clemency to protesters arrested for disorderly conduct.
  • Resume weekly updates on the investigation and on the city’s progress on fulfilling the steps to improve race relations.
  • Hold a diversity summit.
  • Support efforts to compel the attorney general to return the shooting case to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office for potential prosecution.
  • Uphold first amendment rights should protesters return to Hoover.
  • Have the mayor apologize for comments made on social media that racism is embraced by his administration.

“At the end of the day the whole reason we are here is so that African Americans, people of color, any minority will be treated fairly in the City of Hoover or anywhere else in the county,” Birmingham Justice League member Iva Williams said after the meeting last week.

Williams said the protests would be suspended as long as Hoover officials moved forward in good faith, and Chaverst said that some forms of protest would continue, including boycotting the Galleria. He also said protest efforts would be redirected to focus on state law enforcement offices, including the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the Attorney General’s Office.

ALEA took over investigation of the case, which involves a police officer shooting Bradford three times in the Galleria on Thanksgiving night, from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

The incident began with a fight between two other men at the mall, which led to gunfire in which Brian Wilson, 18, of Bessemer was shot twice and bystander 12-year-old Molly Bennett of Calera was shot once. Early reports identified Bradford as the shooter, but Hoover city officials soon recanted that information.

About a week later, Erron Martez Dequan Brown, 20, was arrested by federal marshals in Georgia and charged with attempted murder in connection with the case.

Chaverst’s group is demanding that ALEA release the officer’s body camera video along with other details of the investigation. It also is demanding that the Attorney General’s Office, which took over jurisdiction of the case, return the case to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office to handle any prosecution.

Asked about earlier demands for Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato to resign, protest organizers said that they have since come to understand that the mayor had never viewed the video of Bradford’s shooting, nor had members of the City Council. So protestor no longer feel that demand is necessary. A demand to rename Galleria Boulevard also is no longer on the table because protest organizers have discovered it is a private road, rather than a public one.

“We are allowing the city of Hoover time to implement the policy changes that they said they would. We know government is not overnight, so we will give them time,” said Chaverst said last week.