Trump tweeted, “So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching. But we will WIN!”
In a Facebook post sharing a screenshot of that tweet, Sewell outlined, “From Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement, 3,446 African Americans were murdered by lynching.”
“The history of lynching in our nation is one of white supremacy, humiliation and dehumanization,” she continued.
Sewell, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, represents a district that includes Selma.
“For President Trump to liken the impeachment inquiry—a lawful investigation—to the racial terror millions of African Americans endured is despicable,” she concluded. “And for the people of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, who marched, bled and died to end this type of terrorism, the sting of the President’s words is especially sharp.”
Tensions simmer at peaceful protest in front of Alabama State Capitol
MONTGOMERY — Around 300 protesters peacefully assembled one block down from the State Capitol building on Monday night to hold a protest against police misconduct in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis Police custody last week.
Demonstrators began assembling shortly after 8:00 p.m., and though tensions sometimes flared verbally, no physical altercations or property damage occurred.
At the end of the night, one young woman who refused to leave the scene of the protest after the city’s COVID-19 imposed 10:00 p.m. curfew was arrested by the Montgomery Police Department.
She was the only demonstrator arrested in downtown Montgomery on Monday, though the police department also took suspects into custody for the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue at Lee High School a few miles away.
Demonstrations had been held in Alabama’s capital city on Saturday and Sunday during the daylight hours, but Monday was the first gathering since an outbreak of violence in Birmingham ratcheted up tensions in the Yellowhammer State.
Mayor Steven Reed held a press conference at 6:00 p.m. and urged all those willing who could to stay home for the next few nights.
Various protesters tacitly acknowledged the violence in Birmingham and other cities across the country as they urged those assembled throughout the night to “stay calm” and “stay peaceful.”
“If you’re an agitator, you don’t belong here,” said one woman when the crowd had swelled.
There was evidence during the night that indicated the City of Montgomery was prepared for a more unruly evening than what occurred. A few dozen police officers were at the scene of the protest, but on the adjoining streets several more officers were close by that could have served as backup if needed.
Businesses nearby had prepared for bad behavior.
The Montgomery Police Department erected barriers one block away from the capitol in each direction, and the lines drawn by the officers were never broken by the demonstrators.
Protesters began marching and chanting familiar nationwide slogans such as “black lives matter” and “Say his name — George Floyd” to begin their demonstration Monday night.
Yellowhammer News walked amidst the protesters and was able to observe myriad levels of anger, disagreement about tactics and positive reassurance of the mission at hand for those assembled.
Dozens of those assembled were documenting the event for social media, while others held signs and led the crowd in chants.
There were even moments of levity, such as when one young woman demanded to know who of the protesting men were single, because she liked what she was seeing.
Tensions were highest just after 9:00 p.m., when the crowd was at its largest and moved suddenly into close contact with the police standing behind a barricade.
Shortly after that, two police officers who had entered the crowd to have discussions with protesters withdrew after being surrounded on all sides by demonstrators who were jumping up and down jeering loudly.
Just after 9:30 p.m., one of the loudest demonstrators was pulled from the crowd by the police. After what appeared to be a long discussion with multiple officers, he appeared to leave the protest without being taken into custody. An officer confirmed to Yellowhammer News later in the night that the man had not been arrested.
The removal of that man ended the most contentious portion of the evening. The crowd size began to diminish afterward, and there were only around 100 protesters remaining when the mandatory 10:00 p.m. curfew went into effect.
Just after the curfew, there appeared to be some energy among those remaining to stay until the voice of an Alabama State University student named Talisa Boswell rose above the din of the crowd.
“We’ll be back tomorrow,” Boswell promised as she urged her fellow demonstrators to obey the orders to disperse.
The crowd appeared to take Boswell’s message to heart as the vast majority of protesters left the scene.
One lone resisting woman was handcuffed and taken away by police at 10:15 p.m., and the department later confirmed to Yellowhammer that she had been arrested.
At 10:23 p.m., a SWAT unit that had been waiting around the corner pulled through the now-empty protest site, having gone unused during an event when the worst fears of many across the city never came to pass.
With large groups of people protesting the death of George Floyd, the Alabama Department of Public Health is reminding people that the coronavirus pandemic is still happening.
Dr. Karen Landers of ADPH said that people need to remember that “social distancing, good hand hygiene, and use of cloth face coverings in public as critically important measures to protect individuals and the community during this outbreak,” so if you’re going to protest at least wear a mask.
5. Violence is always Trump’s fault, apparently
Former Vice President Joe Biden has shared his thoughts on the state of things across the country amid riots and protests over George Floyd’s death. He said that President Donald Trump “breathes oxygen into the hate.”
Biden went on to say that things that are being said now “encouraged people to bring out the vitriol.” He’s also promising that if he’s elected he’ll “significantly increase economic opportunity that’s across the board in a way that hasn’t existed” as a way to deal “with institutional structure, institutional racism, that need to be fixed.”
4. Birmingham has a curfew and took down monuments
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s announced curfew seemed to quell the violence the city saw Sunday with no major disruptions on Monday.
Woodfin also followed through in his promise to remove the Confederate memorial at Linn Park, a promise meant to soothe tensions the day before, but that was not the only Confederate statue to fall Monday as rioters took down a statue of Robert E. Lee in Montgomery.
3. AG Marshall will sue Birmingham
After Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said that he would have a Confederate monument removed from a park in the city, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said that the state will bring a civil suit against Birmingham that could bring a $25,000 fine.
Under the Alabama Monuments Preservation Act this is the only action that could be taken if the Confederate monument is removed. Marshall said that if the monument is removed, he “will perform the duties assigned to me by the Act to pursue a new civil complaint against the City.”
2. The White House wants to put an end to violent protests
President Donald Trump responded to governors of states where riots are taking place, saying, “Most of you are weak. … They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.” Trump also said that people will have to be arrested and “you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again.” He added there will be a “central command center” established at the White House.
Trump also had a defiant crowd dispersed in Lafeyette Park to clear out the area so he could visit the historic St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C. to show that this will not be allowed to continue, and now he has to follow through on those words.
1. Alabama protests turn violent
Violence marred protests in Huntsville with rocks being thrown and teargas being used to disperse a crowd that moved across town to a shopping center, but it was less chaotic in other parts of the state.
Governor Kay Ivey has authorized the activation of at least 1,000 members of the Alabama National Guard due to the riots that took place in Birmingham, but this is mainly a precautionary decision. She said, “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.”
The removal of the monument was broadcast live on Facebook by every major local TV network in the area.
You can watch respective livestreams by WBRC here, ABC 33/40 here, CBS 42 here and WVTM 13 here.
The monument was damaged and defaced by vandals on Sunday evening.
The City of Birmingham is expected to face a onetime fine of $25,000 for removing the monument in apparent violation of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.
“In order to prevent more civil unrest in our city, I think it is very imperative we remove this statue,” Woodfin on Monday said.
“That has a cost to it. I understand that the AG’s office can bring a civil suit against the city. If there is a judgment rendered from a judge, then we should be held accountable,” continued the mayor.
“I believe I am willing to accept that, because that is a lower cost than civil unrest in our city,” added Woodfin.
Monday’s removal of the statue culminates efforts by two City administrations since 2017 to do so.
Statue of Robert E. Lee toppled at Montgomery high school
A statue of Robert E. Lee was knocked down from its pedestal at Montgomery’s Lee High School sometime Monday evening, as evidenced by pictures from the scene.
When WSFA arrived on the scene, the TV outlet reported that no one was present besides police officers, who proceeded to stand the statue back up next to the pedestal, which looms large in front of the school’s main entrance.
End the mayhem and madness: The rule of law, not mobs, must prevail
Have we gone mad? In liberal cities and states, American citizens are more likely to be arrested for attending church than for fire-bombing one – as a crowd of rioters tried to do in Washington, D.C.
Enough. Americans cannot and will not abide this violence and destruction any longer. If any government official does wrong, every American has the constitutional right to protest and demand justice, but no American is entitled to commit violence or destruction or join a lawless mob. The rule of law, not the rule of mobs, must prevail.
First, we must fully understand that peaceful protestors demonstrate, they do not destroy. These are, in fact, riots – led by radicals, anarchists and criminals bent on mayhem and chaos. But far too many public officials don’t seem to understand this fact. Instead, they beg and plead with the public to be calm, peaceful, and responsible. But the many good people who heed those calls were never burning, looting, or vandalizing stores, monuments, and homes or attacking their fellow citizens or police. The radicals hear those pleas as signals of weakness and fear in face of their street-level terror. It only emboldens these predators to commit more violence, sow more fear, and wreak further havoc. These outlaws believe they have the law on the run.
It is critical that the thin blue line that defends order from chaos have the support of their own elected leaders. Without that, innocent and upstanding law officers are left to doubt if doing their duty is appreciated. Law officers should be held accountable for wrongdoing, but that does not allow for the slandering, denigration, and disrespect of hundreds of thousands of self-sacrificing, courageous and honorable men and women of law enforcement. These fine officers spend a career serving others in countless ways, often at risk of their own lives, showing patience and understanding in the face of provocation. Nothing could be more harmful to achieving a safe society than having great officers depart the profession and others never apply. The crimes of the few should not outweigh the virtues of the many. That’s why we need more good cops, not fewer.
We should immediately deploy all necessary resources and force to restore order and uphold justice for all. As Attorney General, I helped rebuild state, local, and federal law enforcement partnerships. Those should be activated to identify, pursue, and apprehend dangerous rioters before they strike again. The National Guard and other federal forces should be called on when needed. Together, we should “flood the zone” and target, remove and vigorously prosecute these rioters and criminals as soon as unrest begins. This strategy, conducted with overwhelming and combined numbers and force, would quell these riots before they engulf whole communities and spread further. We cannot allow our police forces to be outnumbered or overrun when facing these kinds of violent hordes.
President Trump is right: these rioters are acting as terrorists and should be treated as such.
The burning of the Minneapolis police station and the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, the murder of an African American federal security officer in California, the injuries to more than 60 Secret Service agents defending the White House, and the countless other assaults on law officers, National Guardsmen, first responders, business owners, and innocent bystanders are not just attacks on people and property, they are direct attacks our system of justice and our commitment to be a nation of laws.
The last few nights have made clear that rioters and looters have twisted the memory of George Floyd and have distorted the message of justice from the peaceful protestors and have turned it into an excuse for anarchy, crime, and destruction. George Floyd deserved better.
Fortunately, security cameras and the widespread use of smartphones provide us with substantial evidence that can be used to bring the rioters to justice. State, local, and federal enforcement agencies across the country should commit to using all of their investigative resources to identify and prosecute the criminals depicted in those videos and images of assaults, destruction and looting over the past few nights. Every one of them must be brought to justice. And elected officials must commit to supporting that good work, not continuing to encourage the riots through leniency.
Violent, destructive mobs cannot be allowed to rule our streets one minute longer. It must end now!
Jeff Sessions has served as a U.S. Senator and Attorney General and is a 2020 candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama