Birmingham protests turn violent: Fires, windows shattered at banks, businesses as reporters attacked – AL.com

Protesters on Sunday evening began trying to tear down a Confederate monument in a downtown Birmingham park.

Later, the protest turned violent as demonstrators turned and attacked several members of the media, including from Al.com. At least one TV reporter was struck in the head with a bottle.

The monument withstood attempts to bring it down before Birmingham’s mayor asked the crowd to leave before police were to step in. The Thomas Jefferson statue at the Jefferson County Courthouse, adjacent to the park, was damaged about 10 p.m. after someone set a fire at its base and several windows in the courthouse were broken by rocks thrown in the demonstration.

Police moved into the park minutes later and demonstrators moved a block south of the park on 6th Avenue North at 20th Street North where they burned a flag on a pole at the Wells Fargo building. Demonstrators also spray painted windows and broke out windows in the ground floor of the skyscraper where some entered the building.

Windows were also broken out of the neighboring Harbert Plaza as the protesters continued marching south. Demonstrators also broke out windows at the Alabama Power building at 18th Street and 6th Avenue North and entered the building.

The effort began after a speaker at a rally for George Floyd on Sunday afternoon called for its removal. Comedian Jermaine “FunnyMaine” Johnson, called for demonstrators to tear down the monument.

“We’ve got a lot cities around the country. They’re tearing down Target. They’re tearing down city hall. We can’t do that. We gotta protect our city,” Johnson said. “We can’t tear down 16th Street Baptist Church. We can’t tear down the civil rights museum. We can’t tear down Carver. We can’t tear down A.G. Gaston Plaza. But what I’m not telling you to do is walk to Linn Park. I’m not telling to walk to Linn Park after this rally. I’m not telling you to tear something down in Linn Park. I’m not telling you that I’m going to be over there after this rally,” he said.

The monument in Linn Park has been the subject of a legal fight between Birmingham and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office over historical monuments. The City of Birmingham has wanted it removed, but has lost a legal fight with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

It wasn’t the first legal fight over the monument. Save Our South filed a lawsuit a month after the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board unanimously approved a resolution in July 2015 to remove the Confederate Soldiers & Sailors monument.

At first protesters on Sunday took down a plywood barricade at the base of the monument, placed there by the city before the legal fight. Then demonstrators began to chip away at the monument with anything they could find. Ropes were then placed around the monument in an attempt to bring the large monument down. Demonstrators also spray painted the base and chipped away at the inscriptions at the bottom. Chains or ropes were also placed around the monument and people were trying to pull the monolith down. A pickup truck also was being used to help pull. The rope broke on the first attempt.

Birmingham police officers stood by watching the protesters and did not attempt to stop them. Officers later pulled back further from the scene. Protesters also turned their attention – and were successful – in taking down a metal statue of the park’s namesake. Protesters then chanted “one more to go,” referring to the main granite Confederate monument.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin appeared at the park, and using a bullhorn next to Johnson, asked the crowd to stand down. The crowd was angered at the request. “I understand the frustration and the anger that you have,” he said. “Allow me to finish the job for you.”

The mayor didn’t explain how he would finish the job.

Woodfin said if the crowd continued police would move in. He said he didn’t want anyone in the crowd to get arrested.

Johnson said that Woodfin was asking for 24 hours and that the mayor deserves to get that time. If the monument isn’t down by Tuesday Johnson said he would be back out.

The protesters have been a part of demonstrations and rallies around Alabama and the nation over the death of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck until he couldn’t breathe.

Here is the earlier reporting from this afternoon telling of protests around the state

Source: https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiZmh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmFsLmNvbS9uZXdzLzIwMjAvMDUvcHJvdGVzdGVycy10cnlpbmctdG8tdGFrZS1kb3duLWNvbmZlZGVyYXRlLW1vbnVtZW50LWluLWJpcm1pbmdoYW0uaHRtbNIBdWh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmFsLmNvbS9uZXdzLzIwMjAvMDUvcHJvdGVzdGVycy10cnlpbmctdG8tdGFrZS1kb3duLWNvbmZlZGVyYXRlLW1vbnVtZW50LWluLWJpcm1pbmdoYW0uaHRtbD9vdXRwdXRUeXBlPWFtcA?oc=5

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