George Floyd Killing Protests: Organizers estimate about 1,000 people gathered Saturday in Birmingham for a rally and march to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the wake of George Floyd’s death, although protesters were reporting arrests at one event later in Hoover.
Protests have spread across the country in the days since Floyd died while handcuffed after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes in an incident that was captured on video. Video of the incident sparked outrage across the country, though protests in Alabama remained peaceful so far on Saturday.
In Birmingham, a large crowd filled Kelly Ingram Park, across the street from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church for a rally and march through the city’s downtown business district, chanting “Black lives matter,” George Floyd’s name, “no justice, no peace,” “I can’t breathe,” and “hands up, don’t shoot.”
The rally, organized by a group called Alabama Rally Against Injustice, featured speeches from organizers as well as elected officials, including State Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, State Rep. Neil Rafferty, Jefferson County Sheriff Mark Pettway, and former Birmingham Mayor William Bell.
The group held a similar protest on Thursday night, but Saturday’s event drew far more people to the park.
More than 100 protesters gathered in Kelly Ingram Park to voice outrage over the death of the unarmed black man earlier this week in Minnesota.
After several speeches and some donated pizza and water bottles, the crowd marched from the park down Fifth Avenue North through the city’s central business district.
The rally was one of several in Alabama Saturday in the wake of Floyd’s death.
In Huntsville, protesters marched through downtown, as seen in the video below.
Protesters also marched through Hoover along U.S. Highway 31 at the Hoover Municipal Complex with a crowd estimated at 100 or more. Police officers from Hoover and other area police departments lined the road to keep protesters off the road. Protesters said some were arrested.
Police at the scene declined comment but later said 20 people were arrested for various charges – mostly stemming from blocking traffic on Montgomery Highway.
“The majority of those arrested were charged with disorderly conduct. Additionally, some were charged with criminal trespassing, resisting arrest, and one person was charged with carrying a firearm during a demonstration,” Lt Keith Czeskleba said.
No injuries to any protesters or officers were reported, Czeskleba said. Two buildings, Jared Jewelry on Galleria Circle and Von Maur at the Riverchase Galleria, sustained damage to their windows as a result of the protest, he added.
Some protesters, most wearing masks due to the pandemic, held signs such as “I Can’t Breathe” referring to the death of Floyd, who had told the Minneapolis police officer he couldn’t breathe as the officer put a knee on his neck.
Other signs held by protesters included “White silence is violence” and “End Police Brutality” and protesters at times shouted. The protests were reminiscent of protests following the shooting death of E.J. Bradford by a Hoover police officer at the Galleria in November 2018. Some in the crowd Saturday night brought up the memory of Bradford’s death.
Saleighna Pryor attended the Birmingham and Hoover protests because, she said, “Black people are tired.” Pryor, who is African-American, said that she doesn’t expect white people to understand what black people continually face.
“We do not expect you to feel for us,” Pryor said, “but you cannot continue to poke a lion and expect it not to get mad. You cannot expect to kill us and us sit there and do nothing. You cannot expect to put us down over and over and expect us to allow you to do it.”
Hoover resident Andrea Lilly brought her daughter to the protest. As to why she attended, she “I have two little boys, and I want them to become black men one day. I want them to make it that far.” Lilly then teared up, saying that given what is happening across the country, “It’s a very real thing that that could not happen.”Trisha Powell Crain✔@Trish_Crain · Replying to @Trish_Crain
Protesters are back in front of the Hoover Municipal Center. Strong police presence. Folks in cars honking support. Lots of signs.
Here’s the scene in front of the Hoover Municipal Center. Peaceful protest.
Large crowds also gathered in Montgomery for a protest on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol.
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