HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- Huntsville residents stepped up to the microphone on Wednesday to tell the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council what they thought about what happened during the protests from May 30 to June 5.
For many, the night of June 3 still resonates in Huntsville. A night of peaceful protests ended with officers dispersing the crowd with tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and smoke canisters.
Two weeks later, Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurrary gave his after action report explaining why law enforcement responded the way they did.
August 12 is the first forum of two that will give people an opportunity to give their opinion to the HPCAC on what happened those nights and how the city and police should move forward.
More than twenty people expressed their grievances to the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council, most of who argued that the Huntsville Police Departments use of force to disperse protesters from downtown were unjustified.
Many who addressed the HPCAC say law enforcement used force without cause at the protests on June 1st and 3rd.
“The police chief decided he needed every resource available including snipers on the roof, in addition to of course riot gear, tear gas, pepper spray, flash bangs and synthetic bullets,” says John Price.
Saying that the protest was peaceful until escalated by police.
“I don’t know the best way to relieve tension or help contain crowd control but I’m pretty sure riot gear is the opposite of that,” says Lee Ellenburg.
On June 18th Huntsville Police Chief McMurray presented an after action report to city council saying there were outside agitators in the crowd on June 3rd and the department expected crowds to turn violent after dark.
“Just like my grandparents who protested back in the 60s they use the outside agitator thing to discredit the fact that our city has justifiably angry citizens here,” says Catherine Hereford.
“Watching the head of police talk about how he attacked us because of the possibility of a threat made me have secondhand embarrassment,” says Brooke Justice.
The people Wednesday overwhelmingly criticized police but there was one supporter.
“They wanted a confrontation. They deliberately disobeyed the police instructions chief McMurray should be commended for his handling of the situation,” says Bob Baccus.
On the other hand, citizens want the chief to appologize.
“Not once has he suggested that his choices that night were a mistake. He has chosen to double down on lies, propaganda and fear to justify himself,” says Tahirih Osborne.
If you were unable to make Wednesday’s session — there will be another one on August 28th.