FLORENCE, Ala — Since June, Florence-based racial justice group Project Say Something has hosted daily peaceful protests outside of the Lauderdale County Courthouse. They’re calling for the removal and relocation of the Confederate monument that stands in a garden outside of the courthouse.
The group expected the City of Florence to take action on moving the statue earlier in July but the city needs county approval.
Project Say Something decided to change its method of protesting beginning with a sit-in outside of Florence Mayor Steve Holt’s office on July 14.
On Monday, the group held a die-in in the lobby of the Florence-Lauderdale Government Building, but Sheriff Rick Singleton said that is prohibited. “Traditional public spaces like sidewalks, parks, streets—those are considered traditional public forum spaces,” Sheriff Singleton said when mentioning places where protests are allowed. “But you’re not allowed to come inside the building to protest.”
Sheriff Singleton asked protesters to leave the building but said they could continue outside. “Had they refused, then they’re committing the offense of disorderly conduct,” he added.
The sheriff also pointed out that the lobby of the building is currently being used as an overflow waiting area for the license commissioner’s office. Blue tape on the floor marks where people should stand to observe social distancing. The sheriff said he gave protesters the order to leave and they did without confrontation.
“I have a lot of respect for the people who are protesting on both sides of this issue because they have been nothing but cooperative with us,” Sheriff Singleton said. He encourages them to continue exercising their right to peacefully protest.
Wednesday morning, the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office shared images on Facebook with information for peaceful protesters on avoiding confrontation with deputies.