HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A message to Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle asking him to sit down for a meeting with social justice group, Citizens Coalition for Justice Reform.
“We have a gap, and it’s broken. It needs to be continuous process improvement, and so we have some solutions that we’ve come up with and we’d like for them to be heard,” Coalition Liaison Angela Curry said.
The request is displayed on a billboard on University Drive. Curry said they’ve been asking to meet with the mayor for months. They want to talk about the future of Police and Justice reform since Huntsville’s social justice protests in June, when tear gas and rubber bullets were used on protesters.
While the billboard was designed by the Citizen’s Coalition, the group was approached by a Black Lives Matter group in Birmingham. They offered to donate billboard space bought with money given by Black Lives Matter Grassroots, as part of a statewide prison reform campaign.
BLM Birmingham requested a design from the Coalition when they decided what they wanted printed on the billboard.
“They wanted to send a message to say, ‘hey, lets stop this. Talk to us. We want to talk to you,’ something that he hasn’t been doing,” BLM Birmingham’s Cara McClure said.
The group thinks Mayor Battle isn’t listening to them, but Battle said he is open to working with the community, but the topic is bigger than just himself.
The unfortunate thing, the billboard makes it like its one person’s job. Our whole community has to work together, and our police force is committed to being one of the best police forces possible across the board. Our community is committed to being a great community that has a great police force,” Mayor Battle said.
The mayor says he’s happy to meet with the group after the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council releases findings.
They’ve spent the last seven months gathering information from Huntsville’s protests. According to a Facebook post, those findings could be released later this month.
“What we’re talking about is long-term and it has to do with policy and things of that nature. The protest review is going to come back with ‘this is what happened on that day, and this is what we think should happen next time,” Curry said,
Curry said members of the group have attended every city council meeting since the middle of June. She said the billboard is just another form of visibility in hopes of getting the mayor’s attention.