HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Two years after police brutality protests cropped up across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death, local advocates say they have not seen many changes made in Huntsville.
On June 3, 2020, hundreds of people gathered in Big Spring Park to protest police brutality. The protest came to an end later that night at the Madison County Courthouse when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd of protesters.
“Those of us who protest and have been talking to the media about these problems, do so because we want the best for the city and we want the best for all of its citizens,” said Rosa Parks Day Committee Member David Person.
The Rosa Parks Day Committee promotes civic engagement and equality in Alabama, and Person said he has not seen a change in the philosophy of local police over the past two years.
“It’s hard to embrace the idea that progress is being made when there is no accountability for the past, and when there is no stated commitment on how we are going to effectively move forward.”
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle was at the protests two years ago. He took a knee in front of protesters and told them the demonstration was a victory and change would be coming to the city.
In a statement made to News 19 on Friday, Battle said he is proud of local law enforcement.
“The protests that occurred here and around the world helped spark a national conversation about policing in diverse communities. In taking a closer look at our own processes and procedures, we found many changes being implemented elsewhere were already standard practice here. We have one of the most progressive and innovative departments in the country. That’s a testament to our departmental leadership as well as all the talented men and women who put their lives on the line every day. I’m proud of our police officers, and I appreciate their enduring efforts and sacrifices to keep our City safe.”Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle
In 2021, the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council, a special committee created by the city in the wake of the protests, released a report addressing the police action taken during the protests. The report determined local police need more training.
Two years later, a woman present at the protests has filed a lawsuit against the city of Huntsville and members of several local law enforcement agencies. Madison County resident April Grubb was struck six times by rubber bullets fired by officers as she tried to obey law enforcement’s order to disperse, according to the lawsuit.
Her suit claims officers present at the protests used excessive force and she still suffers from the injuries she received on June 3, 2020.