Huntsville prepares for NAACP demonstrations today
HUNTSVILLE – The City of Huntsville is preparing for more demonstrations today as the community and nation continues to mourn the tragic death of George Floyd. Huntsville Police is working with area leaders to ensure a safe and peaceful event this evening sponsored by the Huntsville-Madison County NAACP.
The demonstration is expected to begin at 5 p.m. at Big Spring Park. Several businesses in the courthouse square spent Tuesday boarding up their windows in case the protests turn destructive or violent, but local law enforcement hopes the example set Monday will be followed today.
The demonstration on Monday in Big Spring Park and subsequent march around the courthouse square was scheduled as a three-hour event and largely proceeded without incident.
“More than 700 people showed up to peacefully demonstrate and we were pleased to support them in this public outreach,” said Mark McMurray, Huntsville’s chief of police. “Only at the very end of the evening, after the event stretched well past four hours, a small group of protestors remained and began threatening officers and public property. After repeatedly warnings, we were able to safely disperse the crowd using smoke first and then tear gas, a non-lethal chemical agent.”
Mayor Tommy Battle commended protestors and police for their ability to work together in sending a message for meaningful change. “This is our opportunity for growth, for dialogue, not for violence,” he said. “We cannot let the actions of a few hijack the good intentions of the many.”
The City Huntsville continues to work closely with event organizers on additional protests related to George Floyd. Of utmost importance is the ability to protect civil liberties and the safety of the public and local businesses.
“My hat goes off to those who organize, those who were in the moment, who hold me, the Mayor and our elected officials accountable.,” said Devyn Keith, Huntsville City Council President. “For those who tried to commandeer the messaging and accountability at the end of a peaceful day, I will continue to work with them to understand their grievances, but there are peaceful activists who are getting more done through dialogue.”