MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. – Marshall County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution regarding protests on county property Wednesday morning.
Activists have been protesting the current placement of a Confederate flag and monument in front of the courthouse in Albertville.
County Attorney Clint Maze worked on the three-page resolution for more than a month before bringing it up to the commission.
One of the new rules is that a permit, issued by County Commission Chairman James Hutcheson or his designee, is now required to protest on county property.
Permits were not required before, something that wasn’t necessary for several protests in the past.
“When varying different groups are protesting at the same time, that’s sometimes a recipe for disturbances and disturbing the peace,” said Maze before presenting the resolution.
As of now, only one group of no more than 30 people can protest in the same location at once.
They cannot demonstrate within 21 feet of the courthouse itself.
“(We had) Two or three groups showing up, and they had issues with each other. This is a safety issue,” said Hutcheson.
Permits will not be given to the same host person or group exceeding more than three consecutive days of six nonconsecutive days and no more than six months in advance.
Protesters can’t use speakers or voice amplifiers, cannot block entrances or exits, and cannot attach signs or flags to the building, fences or monuments.
They also are not allowed to put up canopies or write on the sidewalks.
“My maintenance department has been having to go out and spend half a day every two weeks pressure washing the sidewalk, so it’s costing me a lot of overtime, costing Marshall County citizens a lot of overtime,” said Hutcheson.
According to the resolution, activists also are not allowed to protest or hold what are called “sit-ins” inside the courthouses anymore.
“It was getting to the point where I was scared there’d be some issues, there’d be some people arrested, be some trouble and it was interrupting the operation of the Marshall County courthouse,” explained Hutcheson.
Activist Unique Dunston has been leading the charge to get the Confederate flag and monument removed from in front of the courthouse in Albertville since August.
“Local government or federal government has oftentimes not been on the side of Black people historically, so this decision while it may be somewhat of a surprise, it’s pretty typical behavior from white men in power,” said Dunston.
She told News 19 the resolution has lit a new fire under her.
“The attorneys I have consulted with are very upset and concerned and angry at this decision. They do feel like it’s unconstitutional and believe it infringes on our rights as citizens,” she added.
“The fact that this resolution has passed is validation that they can no longer ignore us. they are taking actions that we don’t like, but they are finally speaking up and talking about it,” added Dunston.
Law enforcement can issue warnings, but if protesters do not comply or become violent, threatening or unruly, they can take actions to disperse the crowd from the property.
Read the full resolution below: