Tag: Public Safety

Woodfin Schedules Oct. 1 Hearing on Birmingham Police Reforms

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has set an Oct. 1 hearing to discuss proposed police reforms.

The event is the culmination of a 90-day review by the public safety task force, a seven-member group appointed earlier this year to assess Birmingham Police Department policies. The task force also is requesting public input, inviting interested individuals to submit written or video proposals for new public safety policies.
Read more.

First Police Review Finds BPD is “Doing Pretty Good,” Woodfin Says, Ends With Explicit Ban on Chokeholds

Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Tuesday morning that his office’s 30-day internal review of the Birmingham Police Department had been completed. The result? “While we found that we are doing pretty good, there is still room for improvement,” he said.

The internal review focused primarily on criteria promoted by #8CANTWAIT, a national campaign calling for immediate policy changes — such as banning chokeholds and strangleholds and requiring officers to de-escalate situations wherever possible — to police departments throughout the country. The results, Woodfin said, showed that “in spirit, Birmingham is in alignment with the standards of #8CANTWAIT.” Read more.

Birmingham Set to Pay Fine for Covering Confederate Monument

Earlier this month, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin yielded to protestors’ demands to remove the controversial Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument from Linn Park.

The statue was driven to an undisclosed location — for its protection, Woodfin said — and the city promptly was sued by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall for violating the state’s Memorial Preservation Act; Marshall has said he will be seeking a $25,000 penalty.

But Tuesday, the City Council will vote on paying a different $25,000 fine associated with the Confederate statue — this one resulting from the actions of former Mayor William Bell, who ordered the statue covered by a black plywood barrier in August 2017. Read more.

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.

Center Point Woman Leads White Birminghamians for Black Lives

In the wake of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and others, countless white people across the county have experienced a social awakening.

Judy Hand-Truitt isn’t among them.

The 72-year-old Center Point resident has been socially awake from her youth and four years ago established White Birminghamians For Black Lives to protest racial injustice.

The racially mixed group marched regularly at Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park until the pandemic made their marches less frequent. Its most recent march was Friday, May 29; its next march will be Friday, June 26. Read more.

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.

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.