HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The evening of Wednesday, June 3 demonstrators rallied together against police brutality in nearly every corner of the country. After an NAACP protest in Huntsville’s Big Spring Park, many walked to the courthouse square.
Just before sundown police used tear gas and opened fire on protesters with less-lethal weapons.
One year later and community activists say they don’t see much change.
“We think that we’re so much better than everywhere else in Alabama, but we refuse to acknowledge our shortcomings,” said Black Lives Matter Huntsville leader Keith Young. “That’s what was wrong.”
Young said a recent arrest caught on camera involving a 22-year old man said to be schizophrenic proves the city is ignoring the cry for help.
“You have to listen to your people and our elected officials, obviously either can’t read the room, or they just don’t care,” he said. “At this point, when we’re blatantly telling you what we want what we need as your voting populace, and you don’t listen, we understand that you don’t care.”
The local activist said the word reform continues to be thrown around, with very little that he can see materializing so far at the city level.
Young said he remains unconvinced even after the city spent more than $650,000 hiring a law firm to assemble an independent report about last June’s protests.
He criticized the council that commissioned the report.
“You guys started off by telling us that this little council thing would have the power to bring some people to bear for what happened,” he said. “At least make them answer questions and come to find out after waiting a whole year and wasting almost a million dollars with taxpayer money you guys couldn’t do anything.”
Young said he will continue to push for change because he fears that as the city of Huntsville grows, the problems will also grow exponentially.
“Either there needs to be a change across the board and what we assumed to be leadership, or we have a systemic problem,” he said. “It needs to be overhauled in such a way that future generations, do not even remember this type of policing.”
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