HUNTSVILLE, Ala (WHNT) - A standing room only crowd packed into the Richard Showers Center Tuesday night for a town hall meeting on justice and equality, hosted by the local chapter of the NAACP.
One woman in the crowd told the panel, “There still is a fear that it could happen here.” The crowd made it clear, action, planning, and progress is what they want out of their elected officials.
Another woman in the crowd stated, “If you claim there is not police injustice and there is not police brutality, you’re flat out liars.”
While there were some fiery moments, there were also moments of inclusion. “We got to work with them. We’ve got to hold them accountable when they’re not right, when they’re doing wrong, that’s our responsibility, but we can’t expect them to do all the community work when we’re in the community," says Rev. Adolphus Elliot.
Mayor Tommy Battle says he recognizes the need to work harder to unite the Rocket City. “Those who feel left out of the system, we try to bring them in," says Battle.
Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray admitted officers aren't perfect, but says they are working to get more minorities in blue uniforms. “We don’t always do this job right, OK? We’re not perfect either, but we don’t come in one color folks. 20% of my police department is minority right now. 61% of my last academy was minority. We’re doing better," says McMurray.
The town hall wasn't all talk. A question from a young man in the back actually sparked an idea - bring new Huntsville Police Officers to town hall meetings like these for a chance to really connect.
There was also a poignant moment that happened when most heads were turned. With all the seats taken, a Huntsville Police Officer gave up his, so that an elderly woman could come in and listen. A simple gesture, but on a night where participants demanded action, maybe it's a small step in the right direction. “ It seems like some days we take two steps forward and two steps back but we keep moving," says Mayor Tommy Battle.
Robert Shanklin with the Huntsville NAACP says they plan to hold many more town hall meetings like these in the future.