Selma Council chambers erupts after calls for resignation

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SELMA, AL (WSFA) - The City Council chambers had to be cleared Tuesday night after things became heated between council members and protestors.

A group of demonstrators say council president Dr. Cecil Williamson was a member of the League of the South, a neo-confederate group.

Protestors also allege Williamson hosted an event and headed a group honoring Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who they say murdered hundreds of black soldiers and became a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

For those reasons, protestors called for Williamson's resignation.

"We don't have any legal jurisdiction to throw him out, but we're hoping that, if he really loves and is concerned about the city, that he will respectfully resign," explained Franklin Fortier, president of the Selma-Dallas County branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Once everyone entered the council chambers, the meeting soon erupted before members could even get to business.

With tension at a fever pitch, Mayor George Evans called for order.

"That's the message on the street. That you all called everybody and told them to come here and raise hell, so they couldn't arrest everybody," he told the crowd.

When that didn't work, the council cleared the chamber for nearly half an hour.  Then, hour after hour. members made their way through the agenda, while police officers watched the crowd.

Councilman Samuel Randolph, the sponsor of the resolution, read the measure aloud.

"We request that Cecil Williamson voluntarily resign from his position," Randolph said.

After discussion, the majority of the council rejected it.  Williamson denies most of the claims and says he's not a racist.

"The council expressed itself and voted it down overwhelmingly, and I hope that will be the end of that part of it," Williamson said.

Meanwhile, some residents are left shaking their heads, hoping the city can get it together and move on.

"I'm just amazed that, in this day in age, and in this historical city, that this is what's happening. You know, we have bigger issues here," said John Carroll of Selma.

Meanwhile, the controversy will continue. Protestors say they rally outside City Hall and the headquarters of the local newspaper until Williamson is no longer council president.

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