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Ivey authorizes activation of up to 1,000 Alabama National Guardsmen in response to Birmingham rioting

Following violence, looting and vandalism in the heart of downtown Birmingham Sunday night and early Monday morning, Governor Kay Ivey has authorized the activation of the Alabama National Guard.

Ivey announced in a release on Monday that she has given authorization to Adjutant General Sheryl Gordon with the Alabama National Guard to activate up to 1,000 guardsmen, should the need arise in response to violent civil unrest.

The governor’s office said that this action strictly serves as a preparedness measure, should local and state law enforcement need additional support.

“While there is no immediate need for us to deploy our Guard, I have given authorization to Adjutant General Sheryl Gordon to be on standby, should our local and state law enforcement need additional support,” Ivey stated.

“The Alabama National Guard stands ready to assist when peaceful protests become violent and dangerous to our public safety,” she added. “I will always support the right of the people of Alabama to peacefully lift your voices in anger and frustration. However, we will not allow our cities to become a target for those, especially from other states, who choose to use violence and destruction to make their point.”

This came shortly after former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement calling on Ivey to mobilize the Alabama National Guard in response to the events in Birmingham.

“The surge of destruction and violence we witnessed last night in the great city of Birmingham must not be allowed to continue,” Sessions said.

“All over the country we have seen the results of ‘politically correct’ and completely ineffective leadership. What began as peaceful protests has been seized and distorted by Antifa, far-left radicals, and criminal thugs who are intent only on destruction and anarchy. We must not simply withdraw or pull back and watch as rioters and terrorists destroy personal property, vandalize, burn, and commit acts of violence,” he continued.

Sessions’ statement came minutes after Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced a curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. in the city.

“A curfew is now essential,” Sessions remarked. “We cannot allow our law enforcement personnel to be outnumbered by those who seek to sow violence. Every asset must be brought to bear to support Birmingham’s government and law enforcement. The Governor should mobilize sufficient numbers of our National Guard, so that our police are supported and order is restored.”

“While we fully support the constitutional right to peaceful protest, a great city must defend the rule of law, with no exceptions,” he concluded. “We must not allow criminal mobs to roam from block to block, looting and destroying as they go. This will not stop until arrests are made, lawbreakers are jailed, and cases against the criminals are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Sessions is currently in a Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate seat he held before being appointed as President Donald J. Trump’s first attorney general. Sessions’ runoff opponent, former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, also released a statement on Monday morning.

“Arson, looting, rioting, vandalism, and violence are not valid forms of protest – they are felonies that must be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Tuberville said.

“Looting stores and stealing televisions will not stop another death like George Floyd’s from occurring,” he added. “Beating journalists and robbing them of their wallets and telephones is not a social statement. It is simply felons being felons.”

Tuberville advised, “Unless anarchy is met with the rule of law, the foundation of our nation will begin to crumble, so I support President Trump’s decision to declare Antifa a terrorist organization and his calls to use the National Guard to stop further riots.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn