HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- More than 100 people took to Big Spring Park in downtown Huntsville Friday night for a peaceful assembly.
“All sides should be heard and everyone should come to the table and resolve all the issues because if we don’t then our communities will fall apart,” said Frederick Richardson.
Richardson is a local registered nurse who co-organized the Unity Assembly and march Friday afternoon in downtown Huntsville.
“I don’t think our uniqueness and diversity is what separates us, I think that’s what makes us better as a country,” explained Richardson.
He told WHNT News 19 the goal of the assembly was to unite police, city leaders and the community to start open communication aiming at ending racism, discrimination, and inequality.
The theme was unity, prayer and action.
“Not just talking about it, but being about it,” Richardson added.
The large group of people at the assembly also marched for change down Dr. Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard.
“I realize police have a very difficult job, but I’d like an America where people are not seen as a threat because of the color of their skin,” said Huntsville resident and assembly-goer Dwayne Mathis.
Mathis donned a t-shirt with the word “#eracism” to make a statement during the assembly about erasing racism.
He brought his two young children to watch history being made through the unification of city leaders and community members with the goal of ending systemic racism and inequality.
“I’ve been racially profiled and I’m just hoping that when my son gets old enough to drive a car that he doesn’t have to be afraid when he’s being pulled over for a busted taillight,” Mathis added.
A group protesting the assembly also made an appearance Friday.
One told WHNT News 19 they were hoping speakers would address the violence at last week’s protests or that Mayor Tommy Battle would apologize for how things went down, but that never happened.
However, city leaders did say they were all ears to every speaker at the assembly.
“Every time that you have one of these, you try to look inside yourself and look and say how can we make our city better, how can we make our police department better,” said Battle.
“Both sides need to talk and we both need to listen,” said Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray.
And they said they plan to use what they heard to make changes.
“There’s always room for improvement. Policing in America is changing as fast as technology is changing and it changes the way we police,” said McMurray.