The Wire

  • Nation of Islam Birmingham chapter leading Hoover boycott efforts

    Excerpt:

    The Birmingham chapter of the Nation of Islam – which is deemed an “extremist,” “deeply racist, antisemitic” “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and led nationally by the infamous Louis Farrakhan – is heading up the boycott effort in Hoover in the aftermath of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr.’s death in an officer-involved shooting at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night.

    In a recent Facebook live video posted by Iva Williams, a spokesperson and the vice president for the activist organization led by self-proclaimed Hoover protest leader Carlos Chaverst, Jr., Williams confirmed that Tremon Muhammad, the student minister (pastor) for the Nation of Islam’s Muhammad Mosque No. 69 in Birmingham, is leading the boycott.

    He also detailed that the boycott is specifically meant to harm businesses owned by white people, with the activists planning on finding ways to help black-owned businesses in Hoover until their leases are up, at which time the businesses will be expected to move into majority-black areas of Birmingham.

  • AG Marshall: Prosecution of corruption remains a priority after Matt Hart’s departure

    Excerpt:

    On Friday’s episode of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall downplayed the departure of now-former Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart.

    Hart formerly led the AG’s Special Prosecutions Division and was perhaps best known for his prosecution of former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.

    In the interim, Hart had become somewhat of a media darling, and Marshall’s critics had charged politics was a motivation in Hart’s resignation. Marshall dismissed those claims and touted Hart’s successor, Clark Morris.

  • Women’s clothier raises $4,500 for police, others with ‘#HooverStrong’ T-shirts sales

    Excerpt:

    There’s no question that the last two weeks have been trying for Hoover retailers in the wake of the tragic shooting at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night.

    With protests flaring up over dissatisfaction with law enforcement’s handling of the incident’s investigation, the circumstances have been trying for local retailers that were already dealing with the busy shopping season.

    However, one Hoover retailer is making the most of the situation.

37 mins ago

Ben Shapiro to speak at the University of Alabama in the spring

(G. Skidmore/Flickr)

Ben Shapiro, a prominent national conservative commentator and writer, will speak at the University of Alabama during the 2019 spring semester.

In an announcement Tuesday, Young America’s Foundation (YAF) said Shapiro will speak on campus in Tuscaloosa as part of the organization’s Fred Allen Lecture Series. UA will be one of six campuses to host the hot ticket speaker during the spring, on a date yet to be announced.

YAF celebrated a “wildly successful” fall lineup of campuses, adding it was “excited” to unveil the select locations hosting “the #1 requested speaker in the country” this coming spring.

146

Formerly an editor-at-large for Breitbart, Shapiro currently serves as the editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, which he founded in 2015. He has spoken frequently on college campus across the country in recent years, meeting with controversy along the way, including especially prominent occasions at the University of California at Berkeley and California State University in Los Angeles.

He also hosts his online political podcast, “The Ben Shapiro Show,” which is broadcast every weekday. At age 34, Shapiro’s podcast is downloaded over 1 million times per episode, with an audience that is reportedly 70 percent under the age of 40. The Daily Wire gets approximately 140 million page views per month.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

West Alabama woman points to bullying, race after her nine-year-old daughter’s suicide

(CBS 42/YouTube)

A mother in west Alabama is grieving after her nine-year-old daughter, McKenzie Adams, died by suicide.

CBS 42 reported Monday that Jasmine Adams’ daughter was a fourth grader at U.S. Jones elementary school in Demopolis, which is close to the family’s home in Linden.

Following her tragic death on December 3, Adams reportedly advised CBS 42 that McKenzie told her teachers and her assistant principal a number of times that she was being bullied.

“She told me that this one particular child was writing her nasty notes in class. It was just things you wouldn’t think a nine-year-old should know. And my baby, to tell me some of the things they had said to her, I was like where are they learning this from,” Adams shared.

Adams also opined that race played into the bullying, as McKenzie rode to school with a white family friend every day.

219

“Part of it could have been because she rode to school with a white family,” Adams outlined. “And a lot of it was race, some of the student bullies would say to her ‘why you riding with white people, you’re black, you’re ugly. You should just die.'”

Alex Brasswell, the Demopolis City Schools attorney, advised that the case is under investigation.

“We are working fully with the Demopolis and Linden police department. They are doing a joint investigation of these allegations. We are cooperating fully and I can’t comment on any of the aspects of the investigation until they conclude it,” Brasswell said.

Adams said that she believes that the school system let her daughter and her family down. She also explained that McKenzie only attended U.S. Jones in Demopolis because she had previously been bullied at the local school in Linden.

“I just felt that our trust was in them that they would do the right thing,” Adams said, “And it feels like to me it wasn’t it wasn’t done.”

“That was my angel, you know. She was a straight ‘A’ student, very smart,” Adams emphasized.

Funeral services for McKenzie are scheduled for Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at U.S. Jones elementary school.

Watch the full report:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Hoover boycott leader defends Louis Farrakhan, talks about ‘the enemy’

(T. Muhammad/Facebook)

Student minister Tremon Muhammad, who leads the Nation of Islam’s Birmingham mosque, took to Facebook Monday evening to defend Louis Farrakhan and attack the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and “all of those that are aligned with them.”

Muhammad, who posted his thoughts in an approximately 45-minute Facebook Live video, was reacting to Yellowhammer News’ article from earlier that day that revealed he was leading the Hoover boycott efforts in the wake of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr.’s death in an officer-involved shooting at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night.

“[W]hat’s happening in Birmingham is just a sign of what’s going to be happening all across America,” Muhammad said.

He called Yellowhammer News “the enemy” and reaffirmed that the Nation of Islam’s involvement leading the Hoover boycott was part of a bigger plan.

1419

Locally, this is an opportunity for them to immediately advance their agenda.

“Boycott Hoover and build up black Birmingham,” Muhammad summarized.

Again using the term “the enemy,” he affirmed that the Nation of Islam’s efforts were to be a “war” against the City of Hoover and its citizens, however Muhammad emphasized they were not advocating violence.

“So, the word ‘war’ was used a few times [last week at the protesters’ organizational meeting], but of course we know that language – the English language – is not our language,” Muhammad asserted, gesturing to himself. “You taught it to us, I’m just trying to do the best I can with it.”

He then said that he has been using “war” in strictly figurative terms when it comes to unrest in Hoover, before asserting that, “You have never heard the Nation of Islam call for a race war.”

It should be noted, in context, that Muhammad said at the meeting he referenced last week that “the Nation of Islam does not subscribe to the theory of nonviolence.”

“If we go out there, we ain’t going out there to play. If we go out there, and we get engaged in combat, … If they touch one of our sisters or hit one of our young people or hit one of the brothers, we’re not out there just to fight,” Muhammad emphasized. “Everybody and everything got to die on sight.”

In the video, Muhammad then read a definition of “war” and then explained that he would continue using the word to describe the Nation of Islam’s efforts in Hoover and the Birmingham metro area.

“The creation of the City of Hoover was an act of war against Birmingham,” Muhammad reflected.

About a minute later, while talking about “white flight,” Muhammad seemed to take his definition of “the enemy” to mean white people in general. Later on, he also criticized “oreos,” which he defined as “black on the outside and white on the inside,” as well as “graham crackers,” which he referred to as “brown on the outside.”

Muhammad transitioned into a line-by-line analysis of Yellowhammer News’ article, starting with the opening line that references the SPLC calling the organization an “extremist,” “deeply racist, antisemitic” “hate group.”

“By black people – no. By the masses of white people – no. By the Southern Poverty Law Center. Stop right there,” Muhammad retorted.

The minister then launched into a tirade against the SPLC, referring to their “wicked pen” and saying if they could not prove their claims about the Nation of Islam, they should “shut [their] mouth.”

Muhammad then referenced a recent speech made by the Nation of Islam’s leader Louis Farrakhan, outlining that Farrakhan had “challenged the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ADL and all of those that are aligned with them.”

The ADL is focused on opposing anti-semitism, while working for civil rights for all. The SPLC describes itself as being “dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Just this year, Farrakhan compared Jewish people to “termites,” saying, “I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.”

Muhammad, in the video, continued to defend Farrakhan, saying he was not an “extremist,” “deeply racist” or “anti-semitic.”

“I’ve got a question for you. Did Farrakhan bring you into slavery?” Muhammad asked his followers.

After asking more similar rhetorical questions, Muhammad said, “Farrakhan didn’t do none of that, Farrakhan redeemed fallen humanity.”

It should be noted that members of the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan included, hold a core belief that the white race was created by a black scientist named Yakub (it is their characterization of the biblical Jacob) thousands of years ago. The Nation of Islam refers to the race he created – white people – as “devils” while black people are the “Original People.”

The organization’s doctrine, which is shunned by mainstream Islam, also holds that black people’s destiny is to wrestle control of the world back away from these “devils” and put them in their supposed rightful place.

Indeed, Farrakhan has not been shy about this belief. When asked by Tim Russert in a 1997 appearance on “Meet the Press,” Farrakhan acknowledged his belief that “whites are blue-eyed devils,” adding the following:

In the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, it talks about the fall of Babylon. It says Babylon is fallen because she has become the habitation of devils. We believe that that ancient Babylon is a symbol of a modern Babylon which is America.

In the video, Muhammad continued, “The only thing [Farrakhan] did was raise his people up to a certain level [from what] they put us in. So, you charge a man that’s trying to pick us up from the condition that you put us in and you’re gunna charge him with hate.”

He went on to criticize Yellowhammer News’ article as trying to separate him from mainstream members of “the movement” and thanked the publication for saying he was following in Farrakhan’s footsteps, calling that a “compliment.”

Tremon Muhammad with Louis Farrakhan

“Trying to force brother Carlos [Chaverst] to say he’s not with [us], trying to force me to say I’m not with him, but we are family. … Even if we disagree, we’re not going to disagree in front of you, Yellowhammer,” Muhammad said.

He then continued to selectively go line-by-line attempting to rebut Yellowhammer News’ article, skipping over parts that quoted both he and Farrakhan in their own words, as well as a key line noting, “This group is so virulently ‘racist’ that they are founded on the belief that white people, as well as Jewish people, are ‘devils.’”

While his method of rebuttal throughout most of the video was to lash out at the SPLC, the ADL, Yellowhammer News, etc., simply saying they were lying and challenging them to “prove it” throughout, the clearest example of his struggle with the truth came during his version of Malcolm X’s assassination, which was quite unequivocally false.

Regarding Malcolm X’s death, Yellowhammer News originally wrote the following:

Many have blamed the organization for his assassination, with three of its members being convicted in his killing. The so-called ringleader of the three, who confessed to firing upon Malcolm X, was promoted to become the head of the Nation of Islam’s Harlem mosque after his release from prison.

In the video, Muhammad responded directly to this passage, concluding, “That did not happen.”

“You are a damn liar,” Muhammad said. “I want to say something else but I’m trying to be a good representative of the ‘honorable minister’ Louis Farrakhan. But I really want to tell you what kind of liar you are. And really I can say that you’re a God-damned liar. Because God damns all liars.”

He continued to say that there was “only one man that confessed to actually shooting Malcolm X” and “that man didn’t even get out of prison.”

“Prove it!” the Muhammad emphasized, ending his claims about the assassination.

The facts do not support Muhammad. Three Nation of Islam members were convicted of the murder. Talmadge Hayer (Thomas Hagan), Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson were all convicted. Hayer maintained the other two charged were innocent but a decade after his conviction admitted four other Nation of Islam members participated in the killing. Malcolm was shot 21 times.

All three of the convicted men were eventually released from prison, despite life sentences. Butler, today known as Muhammad Abdul Aziz, was paroled in 1985 and became the head of the Nation of Islam’s Harlem mosque in 1998. In prison Johnson, who changed his name to Khalil Islam, rejected the Nation of Islam’s teachings and converted to Sunni Islam. He was released in 1987. Hayer, who also rejected the Nation’s teachings while in prison and converted to Sunni Islam, is known today as Mujahid Halim. He was paroled in 2010.

Nevertheless, Muhammad decried that his followers were being misled – and not by him.

“[W]hen you throw these lies out here and then our people read it, and some are young and don’t necessarily know the history, or you may be a little ignorant, I’m not being disrespectful, ignorant of the ways or the history of the Nation of Islam and you may believe what they say, that’s why I gotta come out here and knock out the brains of falsehood,” Muhammad claimed.

He added, “I know the steps of the white man, because Farrakhan trained me well.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

19 hours ago

Hoover officials: ‘Individuals violating the law will be prosecuted’

(Hoover PD)

While reaffirming the right to peacefully assemble, Hoover officials are making clear through a series of arrests that “violent or otherwise dangerous actions that have the potential to threaten or injure” residents and visitors “will not be allowed.”

In the wake of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr. being shot and killed by a Hoover Police officer at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night, protests have steadily escalated. Last week, protesters stopped traffic on I-459 and allegedly injured two security guards at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa.

These two incidents have come seemingly as a line in the sand for the City of Hoover and the Hoover Police Department, who have consistently affirmed and respected the protesters’ rights to demonstrate peacefully. While continuing to recognize these foundational rights, the city and the police department issued a joint statement Monday making clear that lawlessness will not be tolerated.

Statement reads as follows:

410

Regarding the protests, the City of Hoover has stated consistently our support for each individual’s right to peacefully assemble. However, some of these protests have taken an unsafe turn and violent or otherwise dangerous actions that have the potential to threaten or injure our residents and visitors will not be allowed. We continue to support the community’s right to safely protest, while at the same time maintaining the safety of our entire community. Individuals violating the law will be prosecuted.

The statement came in the context of at least three protesters having been arrested since Thursday on respective misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct.

As WBRC outlined, 48-year-old Susan DiPrizio of Vestavia Hills was arrested and charged on Thursday. She allegedly was throwing Christmas ornaments into traffic on Highway 31 in front of Hoover City Hall in protest. It has also been alleged that she attempted to climb onto the hood of a vehicle as she blocked traffic.

Then, two men were arrested Sunday for warrants stemming from the I-459 protest.

Andy Baer, an assistant professor of history at UAB, was arrested during a traffic stop on Galleria Circle. He bonded out of jail Sunday.

Mark Myles was arrested inside the Riverchase Galleria and was later extradited to Bibb County for a separate warrant in that jurisdiction. He bonded out Monday morning.

“This is a serious public safety concern for everyone,” Hoover’s joint statement added. “We have consistently stated that we will not allow roads and highways to be blocked by protesters because it is hazardous and jeopardizes the safety of all citizens and visitors to Hoover.”

While protest leader Carlos Chaverst, Jr. has claimed to have a warrant out for his arrest due to a charge of disorderly conduct in Hoover, it is not clear how many more protesters are in the same boat. Chaverst said he would turn himself in on Saturday but has yet to do so as of Monday at 2:30 p.m.

There is an investigation into the Riverchase Galleria shootings currently underway by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), which is a division of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Besides investigating the officer-involved shooting death of Bradford, the SBI is looking into how a 12-year-old girl was shot. Erron Brown has also been arrested and charged as part of the investigation for allegedly shooting an 18-year-old friend of Bradford in an altercation at the scene.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

20 hours ago

Report: Birmingham one of best, most affordable cities for New Year’s Eve

(Robert Donovan/WikiCommons)

A new report by WalletHub has named Birmingham as one of the nation’s best overall and most affordable cities to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

In order to compile the rankings, “WalletHub compared the 100 most populated U.S. cities across three key dimensions: 1) Entertainment & Food, 2) Costs and 3) Safety & Accessibility.” Those three dimensions comprised “28 relevant metrics.”

After this analysis, Birmingham was recognized as the 14th best overall city for New Year’s Eve and the fifth most affordable. For entertainment and food, the Magic City was ranked 22nd, while its safety and accessibility score came in at lowly number 73.

60

Source: WalletHub

At the top of the best overall rankings was New York City by a considerable margin, followed by Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Diego and Las Vegas.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

23 hours ago

Huntsville bourbon receives highest award in national ‘Fifty Best’ rankings

(Iron's One/Facebook)

Huntsville’s Irons One Distillery was recognized with a double gold medal by “The Fifty Best” for its bourbon whiskey Char #4, making it just one of six bourbons in the nation to receive the highest recognition possible.

The website, which produces rankings including liquors, wine, food, restaurants, travel destinations and entertainment, explained that it “held a ‘blind’ tasting of 46 bourbon whiskies with eighteen members of [their] spirits judging panel.”

Irons One was listed first on the website’s reviews, which described the 90-proof bourbon’s nose, palate and finish.

The “blind” tasting process was described as follows:

293

Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. The higher proof spirits (100+ prf) were tasted after the lower proof bourbons. Each of the bourbons were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. Double-Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The states of origin, distilleries and alcohol proofs are identified for each brand.

On the distillery’s website, Irons One founder Jeffrey Irons outlined, “Because I keep each batch small and tend them personally, I can ensure the strict distilling of my unique recipe, resulting in a whiskey that is superior in smoothness, flavor and drinkability to the discerning palate… Irons ONE is the small batch, single-hand crafted whiskey for those who savor a rich, smooth flavor–served neat, with a little water or over ice. This is truly a whiskey from my hands to yours.”

Describing his philosophy, Irons added, “I am old school. I do my business based on principles.  A handshake gets it done for me, my word is my bond.  I am a man of my word.  I do not compromise my standards.”

You can read about Irons’ process here.

The company posted on Facebook Monday saying that they plan to bottle a barrel of Char #4 before Christmas. These bottles will be available for sale only at the distillery.

“Stay tuned for when this will be ready for purchase,” Irons One added.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 day ago

Nation of Islam Birmingham chapter leading Hoover boycott efforts

(Tamica Banks/Facebook)

The Birmingham chapter of the Nation of Islam – which is deemed an “extremist,” “deeply racist, antisemitic” “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and led nationally by the infamous Louis Farrakhan – is heading up the boycott effort in Hoover in the aftermath of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr.’s death in an officer-involved shooting at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night.

In a recent Facebook live video posted by Iva Williams, a spokesperson and the vice president for the activist organization led by self-proclaimed Hoover protest leader Carlos Chaverst, Jr., Williams confirmed that Tremon Muhammad, the student minister (pastor) for the Nation of Islam’s Muhammad Mosque No. 69 in Birmingham, is leading the boycott.

He also detailed that the boycott is specifically meant to harm businesses owned by white people, with the activists planning on finding ways to help black-owned businesses in Hoover until their leases are up, at which time the businesses will be expected to move into majority-black areas of Birmingham.

This tracks with the Nation of Islam’s theory of “separation” between races, and also substantiates reporting by the Hoover Sun that protest efforts in the city are part of a greater “war.”

845

The publication documented a recent meeting of protest leaders and activists held at the Nation of Islam’s Birmingham mosque recently, where that hate group was joined by at least one more – the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, which has been categorized as such by not only the SPLC, but the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as well.

The Sun wrote that “speakers at the mosque made it clear this ‘war’ is about much more than Bradford’s death and is about to escalate.”

Cara McClure, a politician and activist who ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic nominee for Public Service Commissioner Place 1 this election cycle, confirmed that they were bringing in people from out of state to bolster the protest efforts.

“It’s time to go to jail. We’re going to do some arrestable actions,” McClure outlined. “It’s our time to fight. … I’m bringing in folks from all across the country to prepare for battle because we’re going to shut down Hoover.”

Muhammad mentioned that this was all part of “a bigger cause” to “build up [their] own people.” For his Nation of Islam, this means “black superiority over whites,” as detailed by the SPLC. This group is so virulently “racist” that they are founded on the belief that white people, as well as Jewish people, are “devils.”

The SPLC added the following about the organization:

The Nation of Islam has a black nationalist agenda: Its program states that blacks should be able to form their own nation. It also holds that blacks should be made exempt from taxation until they have achieved equal justice under the law and that interracial marriage and “race mixing” should be “prohibited.”

Historically, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. deemed this organization as a “hate group,” while Malcolm X, who was a leader in the Nation of Islam, came to denounce it soon before he was assassinated, calling out its “sickness and madness.” Many have blamed the organization for his assassination, with three of its members being convicted in his killing. The so-called ringleader of the three, who confessed to firing upon Malcolm X, was promoted to become the head of the Nation of Islam’s Harlem mosque after his release from prison.

Of course, the longtime leader of the organization, Louis Farrakhan, was at the center of this controversy, as he has been when it comes to some of the most heinous speeches and actions by the Nation of Islam over the last half-century.

As extreme as admitting he believes, “White people deserve to die,” to as bizarre as getting the Nation of Islam involved with the Church of Scientology this decade, Farrakhan is one of the most radical figures in American politics, and his Birmingham representative seems to follow suit.

At the recent meeting, Muhammad explained that his organization is not currently on the front lines of the Hoover protests themselves because “the Nation of Islam does not subscribe to the theory of nonviolence.”

“If we go out there, we ain’t going out there to play. If we go out there, and we get engaged in combat, … If they touch one of our sisters or hit one of our young people or hit one of the brothers, we’re not out there just to fight,” Muhammad emphasized. “Everybody and everything got to die on sight.”

While Chaverst has not publicly denounced these comments, he did take issue with the Hoover Sun reporting Muhammad’s use of the word “war” to describe the ongoing efforts.

However, it is not just Muhammad and company publicly embracing Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam’s extremist views. Williams, Chaverst’s vice president, has shared Farrakhan propaganda as recently as Sunday on Facebook. Williams also said that “in the black community, we all respect them,” referring to the Nation of Islam.

And it certainly does not help create separation when Chaverst has been referred to as being like Malcolm X when he was a leader of the Nation of Islam, while Le’Darius Hilliard, president of the Jefferson County Millennial Democrats, compares himself to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Additionally, critics will argue, Chaverst would not allow the Nation of Islam to run the boycott efforts if they were not on the same page. The boycott is viewed as a central tenet to the protesters’ plan of making the city go “broke.” Using the slogan “#HooverWrong” (as opposed to “#HooverStrong“) to draw attention to the boycott movement, Chaverst and the other protest leaders have been very open with their intentions of hurting the city’s economy, as well as the small business owners and employees that comprise it.

Of that boycott, Williams advised that their intention is for it to continue “at least a year.”

“We’re going to bring them to their knees,” Williams said.

While businesses in and around the Riverchase Galleria are already hurting, it will remain to be seen if the boycott effort is hampered in the long run by people discovering that the Nation of Islam is simply using the tragic death of Bradford to further its radical goals.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 days ago

UPDATE: City of Hoover reportedly charges protest leader with disorderly conduct

(Jamiles Lartey/Twitter)

Hoover protest leader Carlos Chaverst, Jr. posted on Facebook Friday night that he is being charged in Hoover with “felony assault” on two security guards at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa.

The incident in question occurred Thursday evening. You can read Yellowhammer News’ report on the alleged assaults here.

“Hoover Police Department is charging me with felony assault on the two security guards that were ‘assaulted’ at Ross Bridge Resort,” Chaverst said, adding “#NoJusticeNoPeace.”

Yellowhammer News has reached out to the Hoover Police Department for comment.

330

Chaverst has been the public face of protests in the wake of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr.’s death in an officer-involved shooting at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night. An investigation is currently being conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), which is a division of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).

Before saying that he was being charged, Chaverst posted on Facebook Friday afternoon saying he would be attending “nonviolent civil disobedience training” later that day and on Saturday.

He also wrote on Friday that, “If they are starting to arrest we are ready!!!”

He did not elaborate on what that meant but has said previously that they would “respond and act accordingly” based on how law enforcement treated them.

Update, 8:55 p.m.:

Chaverst has updated his post, saying, “[T]he District Attorney in the Bessemer cutoff declined to sign-off on the felony charges. Hoover is exploring the options of filing the charges as misdemeanor assault.”

Update, 11:05 p.m.:

Chaverst wrote a new Facebook post, stating that Hoover PD charged him “with disorderly conduct.”

He complained that he was not “ever given a warning” and that he was not told he was being disorderly.

“I’ll fight it in court and hit them with a civil lawsuit. This lil $500 bond don’t stop no show!!” Chaverst said.

He concluded that he plans to turn himself in on Saturday, “post bail THEN protest!”

Update, Saturday, 9:30 p.m.:

The City of Hoover tweeted, “The city has not charged anyone with felony assault in reference to the recent protests.”

In an earlier tweet, the city addressed Chaverst saying he was being charged with felony assault, saying, “This is false information that was posted by the individual on his Facebook page.”

Update, Saturday, 10:15 p.m.:

When asked if “the individual” was being charged with anything, the City of Hoover responded, “In light of the injuries that have occurred, HPD is reviewing all protest activity for possible violations.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 days ago

Valor’s Voice helps Alabama veterans visit National World War II Museum

(S. Ross/YHN)

NEW ORLEANS – Two days before Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and on the day of President George H.W. Bush’s funeral, two Alabama World War Two veterans and their families got to visit the National World War Two Museum, thanks to the passionate work of Marshall County-based Valor’s Voice.

For the nation, it was a day when politics as usual seemed to take a break. But in this place that commemorates the sacrifices made by the Greatest Generation, there is never a left vs. right divide. It is a place that takes you back to a time when there was only right vs. wrong – a time when the very fate of the world hung in the balance.

Yellowhammer News was on hand with the group from Alabama in New Orleans to cover the emotional trip, which started Tuesday evening with an explanation by Valor’s Voice founder and CEO Adam Ragsdale on what the organization does and why it does it.

Along with Ragsdale, WWII veterans Richard “Dick” German and Jack Pritchett, members of their families and two veterans serving as “chaperones” made the journey.

1818

Valor’s Voice

The mission of Valor’s Voice is to ensure America never forgets what happened during the Second World War, premised on the three pillars of “Remembering, Restoring and Reuniting.”

Ragsdale said of the first tenet, “We think remembering is intentional.”

He explained that his daughter is a high school senior in Guntersville and only had a page and a half reference to the war in her history class.

“That was it,” Ragsdale lamented. “And, so my fear is that it’s going to be forgotten. I think if you’re not intentional about remembering, that’s what happens.”

So, while WWII veterans are still able, Ragsdale has made it his mission to bring them down to the museum as often as his organization can, starting with this maiden trip.

“We also do reunions,” Ragsdale added. “Plus, we archive stories for posterity.”

For Ragsdale, as one of the two chaperones phrased it, this is a “labor of love.”

And it has to be. Ragsdale is unpaid and overworked (he works a full-time job at Boeing in Huntsville while serving as pastor of a church in Gadsden as he runs Valor’s Voice by himself) but is also just about the most enthusiastic, caring organizational leader you will find in the state.

He reflected on the genesis of the organization, sharing that both of his grandfathers had been WWII veterans. While Ragsdale was able to hear about one of their experiences before he passed, Ragsdale said that he wished his grandfathers’ stories, memories and lessons could have been catalogued for future generations. From that thought, Valor’s Voice sprung.

The organization’s work could not come at a better time, too. Soon, if these stories are not captured, they will be lost forever. Veterans of the Second World War are passing away at an all-too-rapid rate, with survivors all being over the age of 90 now.

Eventually, in the next several years, the museum trips will transition from veterans to either middle or high school students from Alabama. But, until then, Ragsdale is eager to honor them and ensure their stories will live on well beyond their time on earth.

Visiting the museum

After settling into a hotel three blocks away in the Warehouse District on Tuesday evening, the group got to the National World War Two Museum ten minutes before it opened on Wednesday morning, eager to see as much as possible of the extraordinary multi-building complex that fills a city block and then some.

We were greeted by the sounds and sights of construction, with a new mega-addition to the museum starting to stretch towards the Louisiana sky already. Then, once inside, Pritchett and German, the two WWII veterans, received greetings befitting of their status as American heroes.

For those, that have not been, the museum entrance is styled to look like a typical 1940’s train station in which America’s veterans would have departed their hometowns to join the war. For Pritchett and German, entering the museum was truly like taking a trip back in time.

Adam Ragsdale addresses the group before they toured the museum. (S. Ross/YHN)

After the introductory stop past the museum entrance, Pritchett and German parted ways to embark on their own tours, matching the uniqueness of their experiences in the war.

Pritchett, who served in the Army’s 737th tank battalion, known as “Patton’s Spearheaders,” survived the Battle of the Bulge.

German was a submariner in the Navy during World War Two and, after getting an aerospace degree following that war, reenlisted as a fighter pilot to serve his country once again in Korea.

His first stop on his museum tour was the Boeing Center, which focuses on the various aircraft used in the war, as well as featuring the USS Tang Submarine Experience on the ground floor of the US Freedom Pavilion.

On the way from the Boeing Center to the Solomon Victory Theater, where we would experience the 4-D “Beyond All Boundaries” journey, German was stopped by a woman whose father had served in the war. She made German’s day, as well as his wife’s.

Such a simple display of appreciation by the woman made an extraordinary difference, with the gleam in German’s eye and the smile on his face telling the story more than words ever could.

A little bit later, Pritchett had an experience with admirers, as well.

At lunchtime, the group attended a special Christmas performance by the Victory Belles at the replica BB’s Stage Door Canteen. In between singing Christmas classics, the Belles brought Pritchett on stage, where they serenaded him and sent him back to his seat with significantly more lipstick on his cheeks.

When asked later that day whether he enjoyed that recognition, Pritchett immediately responded, “Oh lord, yeah.”

While these stand-out moments of recognition were gratifying, the entire experience was powerful for the veterans and their families. Because, at the end of the day, the museum and Valor’s Voice are shows of appreciation and respect to them. And even those closest to the veterans – their wives, children and grandchildren – said they did not nearly understand what they went through before the trip to New Orleans. Nor had they seen how it affected them.

“We’ve never seen him choked up like that,” two of Pritchett’s family members remarked afterwards.

Through alternating smiles and tears, laughter and hugs, Valor’s Voice brought these two families even closer together as Pritchett and German look back on the 77th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

They were quick to compliment the “incredible,” “wonderful” Ragsdale for making this trip of a lifetime possible.

Where are we headed?

With reflection, too, comes perspective. As Ragsdale told Yellowhammer News the evening after the trip to the museum, America is at a pivotal point and the next generation of leaders must not forgo the lessons of the Greatest Generation.

He also said he was happy with the maiden trip and that he was already planning another one for Memorial Day.

“I just worry that we’ve got a generation that’s never going to know, they’re just not. And so, I think for me, this trip has validated the need to be very intentional with remembering moving forward,” Ragsdale outlined.

“Even the families, they said that over and over today – that they didn’t understand the scope of it. That, ‘he’s never really talked about it,'” he added.

It also gives context to the difference between that era and Americans today.

One WWII veteran from south Alabama even told Ragsdale one time that two men in his hometown died by suicide because they could not serve in the war.

“Because they couldn’t go,” he emphasized. “Just contrast that now with trigger warnings and safe spaces, and I don’t know what the answer is to make us have that mindset again. To go from that generation, who came out of the Depression with absolutely nothing – and again, you just don’t think about this stuff, [the veterans] were saying that all the deer pre-World War Two had been killed off because people needed to put food on the table so badly…. it’s little stuff like that. And now the biggest thing is does somebody have on a cap that offends me. That’s how different the 18-22 year-olds in recent generations have become.”

Ragsdale continued, “I don’t know. But my hope is that you can expose them to this perspective – if they are able to see why they get to use their freedom this way, who paid the price for them to live in a country that’s accepting of them, even if it’s goofy and even if it’s crazy.”

This was driven home by Mr. Pritchett, who recounted to his son how the trip had affected him emotionally.

“You know, when you’re at war and you’re 18 or 19 and you see medics working on your friends who’ve been blown all over creation, they’re carrying bodies out by the dozens, you just don’t think about mortality. But, I realized today that I’ve lived a good life. I’m in my 90’s. I was here with my son, my grandchildren and people that love me. And people have been shaking my hand all day. While my friends are still buried over there. They didn’t get a life. They didn’t get a college degree and a career and wives and kids and grandkids,” Pritchett outlined, saying it just hit him all of a sudden, some 73-plus years after the war ended.

Ragsdale remarked, “For those guys to have a moment with their families, where their families say, ‘That’s what it costed, that’s what it costs – when he was agitated when I was growing up, that’s why. When he would go quiet around Memorial Day, that’s why.”

“These guys being here today, as the last World War Two president is being buried, was truly special,” he concluded.

How you can help Valor’s Voice

While this maiden trip was a success, Valor’s Voice needs the help of Alabamians to get as many trips funded and completed in the next few years as possible. The next such trip, where veterans and loved ones will visit the museum in New Orleans around Memorial Day, is quickly approaching.

So far, Ragsdale said he has four more WWII veterans already lined up, with the hope of taking 20-30 total people on that upcoming trip. He is also expanding the opportunity to Gold Star Wives – those whose husband served in the war.

“We want to do this as much as we can,” Ragsdale advised. “It’s lit a fire with me again… and watching that today, while we can get them here, we’ve got to get as many as possible.”

If you feel so inclined, you can donate to Valor’s Voice here. Their work is 100 percent funded by everyday people and businesses across Alabama, with zero percent of donations going towards administrative costs or salaries.

Also, if you know of a veteran who served in WWII, you can contact Ragsdale so the veteran’s story can be archived and he can work on getting that veteran plugged into an upcoming trip. Valor’s Voice also archives stories of veterans from other eras, while helping with veterans in need that suffer from PTSD, ALS, problems with the VA, etc.

On this Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, it is good to know that Alabama veterans of World War Two are not being forgotten. And as long as organizations like Valor’s Voice are around, we will never forget.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 days ago

Two Ross Bridge security guards reportedly injured by Hoover protesters

(Jamiles Lartey/Twitter)

Two Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa guards suffered injuries during a protest at the hotel Thursday night, according to Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice.

Rice confirmed the injuries to WBRC on Friday morning.

One security guard reportedly suffered an arm injury when he attempted to keep the entry doors closed as protesters tried to take to the hotel lobby. A second security guard was reportedly knocked over trying to block protesters from entering a stairwell where they could access guest rooms. He suffered a knee injury.

One of the guards told WBRC that the protesters also set off fire alarms, despite since-recanted reporting by Alabama Media Group that police set off the alarms.

314

However, protest leader Carlos Chaverst accused the guards of lying.

“Nobody touched them,” Chaverst claimed to WBRC. “If they are injured, they injured themselves.”

Chaverst took to social media after reports of the incident surfaced, complaining that the media was not the protesters’ “side.”

“The media is reporting two Ross Bridge employees were injured during protest. That is completely FALSE,” the protest leader asserted.

He then called the collective group of security guards working at the private property, “Bull Connor[‘s] nephews.”

‘They are looking to make this 1960’s all over again. They brought busses, fire trucks, tow trucks, officers from other municipalities, etc. However, we will not be moved,” Chaverst added.

It should be noted that law enforcement officers did not arrest any of the protesters, as they asked them to leave once and they did so.

The incident at Ross Bridge came after Chaverst threatened to use “ANY MEANS NECESSARY” in the protest efforts.

Carol Robinson tweeted that Chaverst now plans on filing assault charges against one of the guards.

“If that’s how they want to play, we’re going to play the same game,” Chaverst said.

Robinson also reported that both guards went to the emergency room for X-rays and treatment and that reports were filed by them on the two incidents. They will reportedly be pursuing criminal charges through Hoover Municipal Court.

While city officials have preached restraint in how they deal with the protests, this could be the turning point.

“This is the type of thing we will not tolerate,” Rice explained. “We said all along as long as no one [was] injured and property not destroyed, we would manage the protests.”

“However, this is clearly no longer about pursuing the truth and it has became about breaking the law and injuring people in our city and we won’t stand for that,” Rice added.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 days ago

Meet the Alabama grad who is blazing new trails in the Army

(WSMR, Univ. of Alabama/Facebook)

Army Lt. Gen. Gwen Bingham, a graduate of the University of Alabama and native of the Yellowhammer State, has been achieving record firsts and making both her alma mater and state proud.

As detailed in a writeup by the university about her recent visit to campus, Bingham is currently assistant chief of staff for installation management at the Pentagon, where she directly supports both the secretary and chief of staff for the Army.

Her list of achievements is lengthy and still growing. Bingham is the first female officer ever to hold the position of quartermaster general. The UA alumna is also the first African-American woman to reach the rank of three-star general from an Army ROTC program and is currently one of three women to hold the rank of lieutenant general in the Army.

Back on campus to speak to the ROTC program from which she made her start, Bingham was hard at work inspiring the next generation of Army leaders reared in Tuscaloosa. 

409

“UA cadets’ intellect, spirit and drive are always so heartwarming for me, and it lets me know our Army is in good hands. I’m always on a high when I come back,” Bingham said.

Bingham’s recent visit was particularly special for UA ROTC Battalion Commander Mary Ellen Sinnott, who, like Bingham, will work as a logistician in the Army. Sinnott explained that she admires Bingham’s ascension through the Army ranks and the many milestones she has achieved.

“She’s super supportive of all the cadets coming out, but especially the logisticians, because she’s worked her entire career in that field,” Sinnott outlined.

“As a woman in the military, she’s achieved so many firsts … it’s really cool to have an open dialogue and have her as a mentor,” she added.

Bingham, a native of Troy, received a four-year Army ROTC scholarship from UA and enrolled in 1977. She later joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and served in the UA Student Government Association.

The university writeup noted, “Visits to campus are nostalgic for Bingham, both in seeing how campus has grown and evolved, and in keeping up with UA’s Army ROTC program. She said cadets often seek advice about what to expect during their first assignments as second lieutenants. They’re equally as interested in the ‘shining’ moments in her career, but Bingham places more emphasis on the ‘team and mission,’ which have helped her achieve her individual career milestones.”

“I just see myself from the humble beginnings of being a cadet in ROTC in high school for three years, and then winning a four-year ROTC scholarship,” Bingham advised. “But what I really want people to take away from my life’s journey is to maintain a positive attitude, do the best job you can possibly do, and at the end of the day, know that you are really trying to make a positive difference for the men and women on your team.

“Working at the Pentagon is a humbling experience, but one I take very seriously, because, at the end of the day, we’re all supporting that man or woman on point all around the globe,” she added.

Bingham’s story and presence in the Army’s national leadership team is a shining light for others to follow.

“It’s an incredible source of pride for us,” Sinnott concluded. “[Bingham] is an incredible alumna, but also an incredibly involved alumna, and that makes it so much better.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 days ago

Katie Boyd Britt named BCA president

(YHN, BCA)

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) on Friday officially announced its selection of Alabama native Katie Boyd Britt as the organization’s next president.

Britt, who currently serves as chief of staff to United States Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-AL), will start the job on January 2.

In a press release, BCA leaders praised Britt’s leadership acumen, energy and experience on both Goat Hill and Capitol Hill.

“We are excited to welcome Katie as the BCA’s new president,” Alabama Power CEO Mark Crosswhite, who chairs the BCA’s Executive Committee, said. “As the top staff member for Senator Shelby, she has worked daily with businesses and elected officials from around Alabama and the country. She also has a special ability to work with and unite people from all walks of life. She has all of the tools we were looking for to support the business growth across the state that will drive our economy in the years ahead.”

723

Britt was born and raised in Enterprise and attended the University of Alabama, where she served as president of the Student Government Association. She also earned her law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law.

Over the past decade, she has served in a number of senior positions for Shelby in Washington, D.C. Before becoming chief of staff, Britt was the youngest press secretary in the U.S. Senate. She previously led state governmental affairs for the Butler Snow law firm in Montgomery and also practiced corporate law. She has also served as a member of the BCA Board of Directors.

Britt, her husband, Wesley, and their two children, Bennett and Ridgeway, will reside in Montgomery.

“My heart is in Alabama,” Britt emphasized. “Our state has made significant progress in recent years, and I am honored to have been chosen to lead BCA during this time of growth. I look forward to building on that momentum through collective efforts with our BCA members, elected officials, and business allies across the state – identifying opportunities every day in which we can provide and advance real, tangible solutions.”

“BCA’s successes are Alabama’s successes, and our unique ability to take on big challenges and deliver strategic results will advance our economy and best serve the men and women who make up the backbone of our state,” Britt continued.

Britt, who will be the first female president at BCA, said her top initial priorities will be:

  • Working with the Executive Committee and Board of Directors to develop a new long-term strategic plan for the organization.
  • Building bridges with other organizations to identify shared priorities and objectives at the state and federal level.
  • Reaching out to all businesses in the state to better understand how BCA can bring value to their company.
  • Bringing a fresh, new approach to working with all elected officials and policy makers at the local, state, and federal level to support pro-business, pro-economic growth policies that support all sectors of Alabama’s economy: industrial, commercial, small business, tech and healthcare entrepreneurs.

BCA Executive Committee Member Carl Jamison said Britt brings to the table the qualities and experience needed to successfully move BCA forward.

“BCA has an important responsibility to its members and to our state moving forward,” Jamison outlined. “With Katie’s energy and experiences in Montgomery and Washington, she understands the constructive role BCA can play.”

In a separate release, Shelby added his praise for the hire, saying that Alabama will benefit from her leading BCA.

“Katie Britt is an exceptional choice to serve as CEO of the Business Council of Alabama,” Shelby advised. “She has been invaluable as my chief of staff over the last several years. Although I am disappointed to see her go, I know that my loss is BCA’s gain.

He continued, “Throughout Katie’s time in my office, she demonstrated a unique ability to solve any problem. Not only did she work as my top advisor on all matters, but she also developed bipartisan relationships with lawmakers, top committee and leadership staff, and stakeholders to successfully negotiate complex issues and legislation. Katie understands the intersection of business and politics. I have no doubt that her experience in Alabama and the Senate will establish her as an asset to BCA.

“I am grateful for Katie’s leadership and ability to prioritize what’s best for our state. It is with pride that I wish her, Wesley, Bennett, and Ridgeway all the best as they return to Alabama,” Shelby concluded.

Britt added that her experience in Shelby’s office has prepared her for this new chapter in life.

She remarked, “It has been my life privilege to serve and assist Alabama’s greatest statesman. I am very eager to apply the lessons I learned from him in this new position. I am certain the invaluable experiences of touring every county in Alabama with Senator Shelby, and meeting so many Alabamians, will serve me well as I work to create opportunities for all Alabama business.”

Britt explained that a strong BCA is vital for Alabama’s success as a state and for its residents.

“From the Tennessee Valley to the Wiregrass and then over to Mobile Bay, we have a remarkably diverse economy,” Britt said. “But to ensure Alabama’s future success, we must encourage policies and priorities that strengthen our businesses and provide opportunities for our citizens.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 days ago

Mo Brooks highlights November jobs report – 3.7% unemployment, bigger paychecks

(Jeff Poor / Yellowhammer News)

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5) on Friday highlighted what he viewed, in context, as a “very good” Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)  November jobs report.

In a press release, Brooks said, “The November Jobs Report is very good in the context of two troubling events: the threatened return of socialist, anti-growth policies of Democrats who have captured the House of Representatives and rising interest rates (caused by Federal Reserve hikes coupled with America’s dangerous deficits straining credit markets). These combined threats undermine the economic confidence of job creators which, in turn, risk causing adverse impacts on America’s economy.”

“Despite threatened socialist policies and rising interest rates, in November, America’s economy added 155,000 new jobs, average hourly income continued to grow at a 3.1% annualized rate, and unemployment remained steady at the 50-year low rate of 3.7%— all welcome news for American workers,” Brooks continued. “I am very pleased that Americans are personally benefitting from the tax cuts and deregulation policies that spurred 2018 to be America’s strongest growth rate in over a decade!”

Key takeaways from the jobs report are:

158

  • America’s economy added 155,000 new, nonfarm payroll jobs in November.
  • America’s November unemployment rate was 3.7 percent, a year-to-year improvement of 0.4 percentage points over the 4.1 percent unemployment rate of November 2017.
  • Over the past year, the average weekly earnings for all non-farm American workers increased by 0.2 percent, or six cents (to $27.35/hour). That is an 81 cent improvement in hourly wages over the past year.
  • African-American unemployment fell by 0.3 percentage points, to 5.9 percent, which is the all-time record low unemployment rate for African-Americans.
  • Asian-American unemployment fell from 3.2 percent to 2.7 percent.
  • Caucasian-American unemployment rose from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent.
  • Hispanic-American unemployment rose from 4.4 percent to 4.5 percent.
  • The labor participation rate remained unchanged at 62.9 percent.
  • The long-term unemployed (those unemployed for 27 weeks or more), declined by 120,000 to 1.3 million.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 days ago

Shelby announces $14.2 million highway infrastructure grant for Decatur

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) announced Friday that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will award the City of Decatur with a highway infrastructure improvement grant totaling $14,222,671 in federal funding.

The grant is being made available as part of the DOT Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grant program, which focuses on economic development and infrastructure improvements.

“This $14 million BUILD grant is great news for the city of Decatur and the surrounding region. The funding will allow for much-needed improvements and enhancements to the current infrastructure in Decatur,” Shelby said in a press release.

Alabama’s senior senator added, “As Alabama’s transportation needs evolve, it is important that we find ways to support rapid growth, especially in rural areas. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues and the DOT as we continue to prioritize the infrastructure needs of the state and the nation.”

178

The grant will aid in the construction of an overpass bridge at the intersection of State Route 20 and Bibb Garrett Road. The project also includes ramps, a new access road, improved highway lighting and accommodations for safe pedestrian access.

According to the city, there has been a significant lack of resources to develop and maintain major rural highway infrastructure. This funding will help bridge the gap between Decatur and other main employment areas in the state, providing necessary funding for these much-needed transportation resources.

“The creation of a Highway 20 overpass and exchange is the catalyst of growth and change our city has been striving to achieve,” Mayor Tab Bowling outlined. “Through the keen oversight of Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, the generosity of Sen. Richard Shelby’s office, and the ever-diligent work of the City of Decatur’s grant team and Director of Development Wally Terry, our collaborative efforts have culminated in a regional development that will benefit North Alabamians for generations to come.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 days ago

Steve Marshall joins multistate fight against robocalls

(Steve Marshall Campaign)

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced on Thursday that Alabama is participating in a bipartisan group of 39 attorneys general to stop or reduce annoying and harmful robocalls.

A press release from Marshall’s office explained that this coalition is focused on the technology that major telecom companies are pursuing to combat illegal robocalls.

“Robocalls are not simply annoying but have become a persistent harassment that is disrupting the lives of our citizens and can be a means for scammers to steal their hard-earned money and savings,” Marshall said.

207

The attorney general continued, “We are committed to working together to find a constructive way to combat this growing problem. Robocalls, as well as spoofing which is often done to make it appear the calls are coming from someone known and reputable, will require technological solutions. We support the efforts of telecom companies to address this and urge them to reach and implement solutions as soon as possible.”

The multistate group has already had in-depth meetings with several major telecom companies.

Marshall and his colleagues are working to:

  • Develop a detailed understanding of what is technologically feasible to minimize unwanted robocalls and illegal telemarking,
  • Press the major telecom companies to expedite the best possible solutions for consumers and
  • Determine whether states should make further recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission.

In addition to Marshall in Alabama, those participating in the group include the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 days ago

Hoover mayor: We weren’t caught off guard by protesters blocking I-459

(Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato/Facebook)

In an interview on WERC’s “Morning News with JT” on Thursday morning, Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato explained that the city’s police department was prepared for the Tuesday evening protest that blocked traffic on I-459 and disrupted traffic on I-65.

While some citizens have expressed discontent with the city’s handling of the protests, Brocato said that how they managed Tuesday evening, and have been handling all of the protests to this point, is intentional and in everyone’s best interests, as overreactions by Hoover could further inflame tensions.

He also stressed that Hoover’s status as one of the best cities in Alabama has not changed.

280

“Let me just say this to our citizens – we talk a lot in Hoover about the quality of life, what a wonderful, wonderful city it is. And it has not changed because of this terrible event,” Brocato said, speaking of the officer-involved shooting death of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr. on Thanksgiving night.

He added, “It is still a wonderful city with a great quality of life, and I just want to reinforce to our citizens that I know that you’re shaken over this – it’s very unusual, we’re not used to this, nobody is [here] – but we’re committed to your safety, we’re committed to your security and we’re going to do everything we can to make people that come to Hoover feel very safe, just like they have for the past 50 years.”

Brocato continued, praising the police department and its leadership for putting together and executing an “instant action plan” in the aftermath of the shooting.

“We’re dealing with a very unusual situation with these protesters and the way that they’re handling, but the chief and his staff, [City Manager Allan Rice] and his staff have put together a remarkable plan that we’ve not been surprised by anything. Even the blocking of the interstate did not catch us off guard,” Brocato outlined.

“We had task force and strike teams available with wreckers ready to remove all of those cars, and it really worked well,” he explained.

The protesters stopped blocking the interstate after being asked to leave once by police officers on the scene, so arrests and towing vehicles were not needed.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 days ago

Hoover protest leader calls ‘black folk’ who do not agree with him ‘house negros’

(C. Chaverst/Facebook)

The leader of escalating protests in Hoover, Carlos Chaverst, Jr., took to social media to attack black people who disapprove of his actions, which could soon include protesting at Hoover High School.

Chaverst, as a professional activist, has led the charge for protesters in the wake of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr.’s officer-involved shooting death at the Riverchase Galleria on Thanksgiving night. Chaverst has rallied protesters to not only target the mall, but businesses all around the city, saying the goal was to make the city “broke.”

Just this week, the protests escalated to blocking traffic on I-459 and I-65, and now, Chaverst has declared that protesters will take to Hoover High sometime Thursday.

In response to his actions, he has received pushback from white people (who Chaverst calls “WYPIPO,” which is a phonetic spelling of mispronouncing the two words) and black people alike, who do not want to see citizens, business owners and students who had nothing to do with the tragedy hurt by the protests.

209

In a Facebook post, Chaverst lashed out at the black people who do not agree with his protest methods.

“When black folk are saying the EXACT same thing these racist WYPIPO are saying I tune it out because there’s no place, in my world, for house negros. That’s what you are. Let me and my folk work in the fields while your scary ass in the house with massa,” Chaverst wrote.

This came after he recently called a black radio host who did not agree with him a “coon.” This thought process by Chaverst seems to be consistent, as he has posted a doctored pictured of Kanye West as a white person, too.

Chaverst also posted on Facebook Thursday that he wants “WYPIPO” in and around Hoover to feel “afraid.” In the same post, he compared the four girls killed at 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 to the planned Hoover High protest.

The protest leader has threatened to use “ANY MEANS NECESSARY” in his efforts.

Hoover PD has vowed that protests on city schools’ property will not be allowed and that they will also “ensure the free flow of traffic” in the city.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 days ago

Report: Sessions views potential return to the Senate as ‘a demotion’

(NBC News/Twitter)

Following an interview with the former attorney general and senator on Wednesday, Politico reported that Jeff Sessions does not miss the United States Senate and could be done with politics.

After attending President George H.W. Bush’s funeral in Washington, D.C., Sessions reportedly told Politico that his next step before announcing a decision on whether to run against Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) in 2020 would be returning to Alabama to do some thinking.

“I’ve been clearing my brain. I think that’s a fair statement,” Sessions said. “I’ll go to Alabama, do some things and then that will clarify things a little more before I worry about making a statement.”

80

Then, when asked whether he misses the Senate, Sessions responded, “No. I mean, no. I could go back and spend time in the woods. I’ve got ten grandchildren, oldest is 11.”

Politico concluded that Sessions running in 2020 looks like a “long shot,” explaining that “Sessions has told former colleagues that running for the Senate could be seen as a demotion after serving in Trump’s Cabinet.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 days ago

Early polling conducted as candidates consider 2020 U.S. Senate run

(YHN,PolitiFact/YouTube)

Yellowhammer News has obtained primary polling data featuring four Republicans who are considering running for the United States Senate against Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) in 2020.

The poll surveyed 913 respondents on their first preference out of the given choices, showing Lieutenant Governor-elect Will Ainsworth at 23 percent, Congressman Bradley Byrne at 22 percent, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh at 11 percent, State Auditor Jim Zeigler at 10 percent and 34 percent undecided.

These topline results were tweeted out first by Young Alabama.

While polling in the earliest “exploration” phase of races can drive fundraising and help build momentum, remember that these early numbers are almost completely based off of name identification.

381

Ainsworth just got off his first statewide campaign, which featured a heavy amount of television advertising, while Byrne ran statewide in 2010 and Zeigler has run statewide ten times throughout his career. Marsh has never run statewide.

Breaking the numbers down by media market reveals some geographic strengths, which are always important in a contested primary with a host of candidates.

The Mobile media market unsurprisingly went heavily for its congressman. Byrne garnered 70.6 percent of that region, followed by Ainsworth at 7.5 percent, Ziegler at 3.1 percent and Marsh at 1.9 percent. 16.9 percent of respondents were undecided.

In Huntsville, Ainsworth – who lives in North Alabama – was top dog by a significant margin. He received 36.5 percent, Marsh got 12.4 percent, Byrne 8.4 percent and Zeigler 7.3 percent. 35.4 percent were undecided.

The state’s largest media market (Birmingham) was tight between Ainsworth and Marsh, who ran a solid television buy in that region this general election cycle. Ainsworth polled at 20 percent, Marsh received 18.8 percent, Byrne 11.2 percent and Zeigler 9.8 percent. 40.2 percent were undecided.

The Montgomery media market (which contained the Wiregrass in this polling) was a complete toss up, with Zeigler performing his best here. Ainsworth chalked up 19.5 percent, Zeigler garnered 18 percent, Byrne 17 percent and Marsh 7 percent. 38.5 percent were undecided.

Byrne has been very proactive in traveling the state while he strongly considers running; he has been mostly alone in this category.

However, Ainsworth, who was just traveling across Alabama for the past eighteen months or so campaigning, is now beginning to make moves of his own behind the scenes. Recent meetings in Washington D.C. will only add to the speculation that he could throw his hat in the Senate ring.

Marsh has made clear that he is “looking” at the possibility and Zeigler has announced an exploratory campaign to “gauge support and ability to raise the funds to get our message out.”

Obviously, this will not be the final field of Republican candidates in 2020. One or more of these four may end up deciding against a run after exploring, pondering and praying, and there are other potential major candidates that could very well jump in.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 days ago

Ivey’s Inaugural Committee announces ‘Keep Alabama Growing’ theme

(S. Ross/YHN)

Governor Kay Ivey’s Inaugural Committee, led by co-chairs Dr. Cathy Randall and Jimmy Rane, announced on Wednesday that the theme for the January 14, 2019 inauguration will be “Keep Alabama Growing.”

“In less than a year and a half, Governor Ivey led Alabama to record job growth, improved education and set Alabama on a path of prosperity,” Randall and Rane said in a joint statement.

The co-chairs continued, “The 2019 Inaugural theme, Keep Alabama Growing, underscores Governor Ivey’s promise to build upon these successes and grow more opportunities for Alabamians. We’re inspired by Governor Ivey’s bold vision for Alabama and look forward to celebrating this exciting new era.”

The Inaugural Committee also unveiled the “Kay Ivey Inaugural” website and officially opened the application process for any individuals or groups who wish to participate in the 2019 Inaugural Parade. January 4 is the deadline to submit parade applications.

32

Details regarding the inaugural festivities will be released and posted at www.iveyinaugural.com in the coming weeks.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 days ago

Hoover PD vows to ‘ensure the free flow of traffic’ after interstate protest

(@RobinsonCarol/Twitter)

The Hoover Police Department released a statement on Wednesday pledging to “ensure the free flow of traffic,” adding that they would not allow “any protest activity” on public school grounds in the city.

This came after protesters blocked parts of I-459 and I-65 on Tuesday night. They previously disrupted traffic on busy Highway 31.

Protesting the police-involved fatal shooting of Emantic “E.J.” Bradford on Thanksgiving night, activists have also vowed to take to middle and high schools in Hoover.

Combined with the protesters’ disruption of private businesses that had nothing to do with the Riverchase Galleria shooting incident, the interstate protests have citizens in the area concerned, with calls for the city to make arrests.

177

“The Hoover Police Department has the safety of our citizens and visitors, and their ability to peacefully conduct their lives, as our highest priority,” the city’s statement began.

It went on to say that the police department is “monitoring the protests” but they also “respect any citizen’s right of free expression.”

The statement then added the stipulations about protesting on school grounds and the “free flow of traffic.”

“Most cities experiencing protests have found that the best practice, in general, is to allow them to be conducted as long as they are nonviolent,’’ the statement outlined. “Hoover residents should go about their normal activities.”

“We also advise citizens to take every measure to avoid expressions of anger and frustration during protests, and to not make retaliatory or hostile comments on social media or other communications,” it continued

Police advise residents to report any suspicious activity by dialing 911 or 205-822-5300.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 days ago

Landlord tells Harvard grad student from Alabama to move out over legally owned guns

(Fox News Insider/YouTube)

After Leyla Pirnie’s roommates saw her MAGA hat one day and then discovered she was a gun owner, their Massachusetts landlord is now attempting to strong-arm Pirnie into moving out, saying her legally owned firearms make the roommates feel “extremely uncomfortable.”

As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, Pirnie, a Harvard graduate student from the Yellowhammer State, is being “threatened out of [her] apartment.”

“[S]ince it’s clear that Leyla wants to keep her firearms, it would be best for all parties if she finds another place to live,” Dave Lewis, president of Avid Management, said in an email to Pirnie and her roommates.

885

The admonition that she move out came after her roommates searched her room while she was not at home and found her guns, which prompted one of the roommates to email Lewis requesting he verify that Pirnie was in compliance with applicable firearms laws.

That roommate complained, “[A]ll of us are uncomfortable with having firearms in the house, and that their presence causes anxiety and deprives us of the quiet enjoyment of the premise to which we are entitled.”

Pirnie said she feels her roommates not only violated her privacy, but now they and her landlord are trying to violate her constitutional rights.

“A few weeks ago, I came back to my apartment from a weekend trip and was confronted by one of my roommates who asked if I had guns in the house,” Pirnie explained to the Free Beacon. “After being told far too many lies to count, my roommates finally admitted that they searched my closet, under my bed and all of my drawers in pursuit of finding my guns.”

While she was given various explanations for why her roommates entered and searched her room, Pirnie said she felt her political beliefs and where she is from played a significant role in the roommates’ actions.

“When I asked them why they were in my room to begin with, they each came up with completely contradicting stories (none of which made any sense), but one comment struck me in particular: ‘We saw that you had a MAGA hat and come on, you’re from Alabama… so we just kind of assumed that you had something,'” Pirnie shared. “I asked why they didn’t just call me and ask me before intruding. One of the girls responded that fear took over her body and she felt compelled to search my room until she found proof… I cannot make this up.”

Pirnie said she had been living in the apartment since September without incident, and she kept her political beliefs to herself before the incident. But she did have a Make America Great Again hat in her room that seemingly set her roommates off.

After that search of her room and the initial email from the roommate, Lewis contacted Captain James Donovan of the Somerville Police Department to inspect Pirnie’s guns and ensure they were in compliance with the law. Pirnie consented to allowing the police to inspect her firearms, after which Pirnie said she was told she is indeed in compliance.

Lewis even confirmed the police department’s conclusion that Pirnie was not breaking any laws in his email telling Pirnie to move out. The landlord admitted that law enforcement said the guns “are being safely and legally stored under lock and key.”

Yet, in that email, Lewis added, “That being said, it is clear that the rest of the housemates are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of Firearms being kept in the household.”

He then cited “this difference in philosophy and lifestyle” and “different beliefs and lifestyle choices” as reasons Pirnie needed to move out, adding that she was causing “stress” for her roommates.

Pirnie has taken the position that her landlord’s concern over her roommates being uncomfortable with legally owned firearms is misplaced and that his request that she move out is inappropriate. She also turned their complaint right around on them.

“What I find uncomfortable is coming home to find out that six people I barely know went into my bedroom without permission and went through every single one of my drawers, without any regard to my privacy whatsoever,” Pirnie emphasized. “My landlord’s e-mail, though carefully crafted, showed tremendous prejudice against my right to legally have firearms.”

Pirnie said her motivations for owning firearms have been ignored even though she shared them with her roommates. While an undergraduate student, Pirnie said she was in a physically abusive relationship and that harrowing experience is part of what drives her to be legally and safely armed.

“Nobody has bothered to question, ‘Well, why do you want to have protection? Could it be because you’ve experienced something where you need to protect yourself as you see fit?'” advised said. “I have a real and legitimate reason as to why I want to protect myself.”

She added that the roommates were not concerned with Pirnie’s handling of the guns but rather that somebody might break in and turn the guns on them or the guns “might go off on their own.”

After the landlord’s email, Pirnie and her father rejected Lewis’s request that she move out in the middle of studying for finals.

Then, Lewis claimed his request “was based strictly on practical and not idealogical [sic] terms.”

He then warned that the other roommates could simply move out and Pirnie would have to pay their rent.

“If the other roommates were to move out, Leyla would need to find roommates to share the place or foot the entire $6000+ monthly rent herself,” Lewis wrote.

The bottom line is that Pirnie feels she is being punished for being a lawful gun owner.

“I’m still very much so being threatened out of my apartment,” the Alabamian said. “Either I leave and incur moving expenses or my roommates move and I incur their rent expenses … Doesn’t seem right.”

She concluded, “Not only is this a blatant violation of my privacy, but it’s also a violation of my rights.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 days ago

Peabody Energy completes acquisition of Alabama met coal mine from Drummond

(Wikimedia Commons)

Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) announced on Monday that it has completed its purchase of the Shoal Creek seaborne metallurgical coal mine in Alabama from Birmingham-based Drummond Company, Inc. for $387 million.

Shoal Creek, which employs 450 people, is located on the Black Warrior River in Jefferson, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties and serves Asian and European steel mills. Its location on the river provides direct access to barge transportation to the McDuffie Coal Terminal at the Port of Mobile, where Panamax and Cape-sized vessels are loaded. The Alabama met coal industry is the port’s biggest revenue source.

A press release explained that the acquisition includes the well-capitalized mine, preparation plant and logistical assets and excludes legacy liabilities other than reclamation. The sale was announced in September, with the final closing amount reflecting customary purchase price adjustments.

Peabody President and CEO Glenn Kellow celebrated the addition as a boon for Peabody’s portfolio and applauded Drummond for its work in developing and operating the mine.

374

“This accretive Shoal Creek purchase represents a tremendous step in Peabody’s commitment to upgrade our seaborne metallurgical coal portfolio and target the highly attractive seaborne demand centers,” Kellow said.

He added, “We believe the Shoal Creek acquisition clearly meets our strict investment filters, with expected high returns and rapid payback, a very attractive valuation, and tangible synergies. We believe the transaction offers significant strategic and financial benefits for Peabody in our ongoing drive to create additional shareholder value. We applaud the Drummond team for developing and managing this high-quality operation.”

Shoal Creek coal typically prices at or near the high-vol A index, which historically has sold at a modest discount to the Australian hard coking coal index.

The mine produced 2.1 million tons of metallurgical coal in 2017 and sold 2.4 million tons, generating $387.0 million in revenues, $160.8 million in net income and $161.8 million in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). Shoal Creek has realized 54 percent gross margins through the first nine months of 2018 on 2.0 million tons produced and 1.9 million tons sold, with realized revenues of $173 per ton, costs of $80 per ton1, net income of $162.1 million and adjusted EBITDA of $163.3 million.

All regulatory requirements were met as required by the conditions to closing, and a new collective bargaining agreement became effective at closing. The new labor agreement provides for a 401(k) program; the prior multiemployer pension plan is no longer effective and related obligations are not included in the acquisition. Prior retiree healthcare liabilities were also retained by Drummond.

“We are very pleased to welcome the productive Shoal Creek workforce to the Peabody team,” Kemal Williamson, Peabody President Americas, emphasized. “Peabody looks forward to safely and quickly integrating the mine into our portfolio and benefitting from the experienced workforce and well-capitalized nature of the operation.”

Shoal Creek has 58 million tons of proven and probable reserves with an initial 17 million tons with minimal anticipated capital requirements under the current mine plan, and additional reserves expected to be accessed with relatively low capital requirements. Shoal Creek uses longwall mining technology to mine both the Blue Creek and Mary Lee coal seams.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 week ago

How an Alabama company is getting President George H.W. Bush to his final resting place

(ABC13 Houston/YouTube)

The incredible life story of a World War II hero, consumate family man and model public servant is set to add a final chapter befitting the legacy of former President George H.W. Bush, thanks in part to Alabama-based Progress Rail Services.

Bush’s casket will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol until 10:00 a.m. EST on Wednesday, followed by a funeral at the Washington National Cathedral an hour later. Bush will then return to Houston, where he will lie in repose and a private service will be held at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.

Then, Progress Rail – which is headquartered in Albertville – comes in.

531

On Thursday, a train carrying the 41st president’s remains will leave a Union Pacific Railroad facility in Spring, Texas, a community north of Houston, and travel the 70 miles to College Station. Bush will be buried there, alongside his late wife and daughter, on the site of his presidential library at Texas A&M University.

The locomotive that will carry Bush on that final journey was custom built just for him, adorned with the paint scheme of Air Force One and bearing the number “4141” in his honor. And, to the Yellowhammer State’s pride, it was made by a subsidiary of Progress Rail, Electro-Motive Diesel.

In a Washington Post lede from this week, that special story comes to life once more.

When the curtain parted in College Station, Tex., revealing a two-toned blue locomotive standing nearly 16 feet tall and bearing the number 4141 in his honor, former president George H.W. Bush looked around excitedly, his face breaking into a smile.

One word left his lips: Wow.

Now, 13 years later, that same locomotive is ready and waiting. The trip will be historic for many reasons, giving Texans a chance to say their final goodbyes as the train chugs along the three-hour journey. While Presidents Ulysses Grant, James Garfield, William McKinley, Warren Harding and Franklin Roosevelt similarly reached their final resting places by rail, no president since President Dwight Eisenhower has done so.

From one legend of the Second World War to another, Bush has always done things a little differently.

An Associated Press article at the time said the unveiling of the locomotive stirred memories in Bush of his childhood travels with his family.

“We just rode on the railroads all the time, and I’ve never forgotten it,” the AP quoted Bush as saying.

The former president was so enamored with the train at the time that the engineer even trained him how to operate it on site, allowing him to do so for about two miles.

Bush loved it so much that one of his final wishes was a last ride aboard the locomotive – his last ride, period.

And, as Progress Rail CEO Billy Ainsworth told Yellowhammer News, the company is proud to make this final wish come to fruition.

“On behalf of our parent company Caterpillar, Progress Rail and our subsidiary Electro-Motive Diesel, I am just extremely proud that Union Pacific selected one of our locomotives to honor President Bush and his service to our country,” Ainsworth said. “It’s a tremendous honor for all of our employees.”

Progress Rail, one of the largest suppliers of rail products and services in America, is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. With over 8,000 employees around the world, the company is celebrating its 35th anniversary.

While Ainsworth stressed that Progress Rail is proud to still be based in Alabama, this latest achievement goes to show that the company is certainly making Alabamians proud.

Like Bush, Ainsworth also shared that when he first saw “4141,” he “just couldn’t stop smiling.”

It is not a stretch to imagine that 41 will be smiling once more as he looks down on his final journey alongside his beloved Barbara and Robin on Thursday afternoon.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn