HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council held its third and final listening session reviewing the Huntsville Police Department’s actions during protests that took place from May 30-June 5.
During those protests, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds around the Madison County Courthouse. Thursday, September 17, marked the last time the community could provide comments to the advisory council.
Some speakers addressed racist undertones.
“What we are looking at for the first and the third is like looking through a needle hole,” said Aladin Beshir with the Interfaith Mission Service. “We are looking for symptoms of an existing disease. It will flare and it will go away. The symptoms will go away — but the disease is still there.”
Others took to the podium to praise police’s response to the protests.
“Under those extreme circumstances, we must defer to the police department’s response to safeguard the greater community, and cannot find fault in the insensitive incidents we saw during the moment,” said Mark Prill with the Green Mountain Civic League.
Latoya Piper owns a local security company that often works with Huntsville Police. She says she informed the department her company would be at the protests to deliver first aid to those in need, but Piper says when police used tear gas and rubber bullets on June 3, everything was different.
“They were going to a knee, taking a knee with them, and they started clapping and saying, ‘March with us.’ I knew that wasn’t what was happening,” said Piper. “And you’ve got people laughing, the officers laughing while they are putting their stuff on like, ‘You have no idea what we are about to do to you.'”
Piper reiterated to the council that she believes Huntsville police officers do not need to be retrained.
“The problem here is not necessarily the officers or Huntsville PD as a whole,” said Piper. “I think that the orders right now were wrong, and I believe that they tried to set into place a game plan based on violence that had’t even happened yet.”
When the advisory council’s investigation is complete, they will present their findings to Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and the Huntsville City Council. While the listening sessions are over, you can still submit comments, photos, and videos to the council’s website.