Huntsville mayor: ‘People who were not part of our community’ led Wednesday protest which resulted in tear gas usage, police officer injury
Huntsville has made the news after law enforcement officers on Wednesday used tear gas to break up a crowd who reportedly refused to comply with orders to disperse.
At least one police officer was injured Wednesday evening by the so-called protesters, and a reporter on the scene said objects were thrown at law enforcement vehicles. One local business was damaged.
On Thursday morning, Mayor Tommy Battle released a statement about what occurred, noting that “people who were not part of our community” were responsible for the unpermitted gathering that led to the clash.
“Yesterday, our city saw two separate protest events. The first was organized by the local chapter of the NAACP who worked with the City and Huntsville Police to organize a thoughtful event filled with hope and a call for justice,” the mayor said. “We gathered to mourn the tragedy that occurred in Minneapolis. We came together in supporting a First Amendment right to voice a call for change throughout our country. I saw families and small children. Students and seniors. Black and white. Our community has a shared mission – more must be done.”
However, Battle outlined that a separate gathering from the permitted NAACP event subsequently occurred.
“What occurred after the NAACP event was disheartening,” he noted.
“A second event occurred, structured by people who were not part of our community,” Battle advised. “They gathered at the courthouse to block the square and protest.”
The mayor explained, “This was not part of a permitted event, and there were no local organizers in charge, which becomes a public safety issue. Even so, police allowed the protestors time to express themselves before asking everyone to leave. Most complied, but others did not. Police were clear in their instructions and worked with the remaining protestors for more than an hour before using non-lethal irritants. The protesters had every opportunity to peacefully leave and they chose otherwise. The leadership of this second group is not our community.”
“It is a hard thing for us to see in Huntsville, but we’ve worked too hard to grow this city as a place of respect and opportunity,” Battle concluded. “Let us turn pain into purpose and do the hard work to create meaningful change. We won’t let people and organizations from outside our community turn us against each other. This is a time for us to unite, to protect the city we love and to move forward in a way that is more equitable and just.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn