MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Mayor Steven Reed is commending the police department and the public after peaceful demonstrations were held Monday in the capital city.
When asked what led to the protests remaining peaceful, Reed said he believes de-escalation by the police department helped avoid violent incidents like those in Huntsville and Birmingham.
“I want to commend Chief Finley, I want to commend our police department, those men and women for de-escalating the situation by not appearing in riot gear and by not using militarized tactics against, you know, unarmed protesters,” Reed said.
Montgomery police confirmed one person was arrested on Dexter Avenue Monday night. Savannah Mchellon, 23, was charged with Violation of Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 at 10:30 p.m. on Dexter Avenue. Details about the reason for the arrest weren’t released. However, Montgomery is still under a curfew that starts at 10 p.m.
Reed also acknowledged that while there were reports of vandalism, including at a Wells Fargo ATM, the individuals involved were not protesters. He also said the police department apprehended some of those involved and has identified others.
“We hate that any business gets robbed, any business is targeted but overall, we did not have the type of fallout that we could have and that we’ve seen in some other cities. And I think that’s because of the preparation and coordination of local, state, county and federal authorities,” Reed added.
Reed said the police department has done a good job at setting a foundation in the community.
Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley posted a statement to Facebook commending his officers and thanking the protesters for Monday night.
“They have a relationship with a number of community members and the community members trust them,” Reed said.
Reed said members of the community spoke to him Monday night about previous disappointments and frustrations they had with the police department but because of their trust in people like Police Chief Ernest Finley, the individuals decided not to lash out.
“I'm not in any way suggesting that, that alone, discouraged or changed the mind. But I do think that it helped to have that type of relationship and that foundation when things like this happen,” Reed said.
Reed believes the violence being seen in some cities across the nation is a direct correlation to the disconnect between the police force and their communities.
“I get a sense that the [Montgomery] police force understands and appreciates these peaceful protests, and they’re doing everything they can to allow the protesters to be heard, while also separating those who want to cause damage, who want to cause harm,” Reed added.
Several suspects were taken into custody Tuesday night and charged after the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee was removed from its pedestal outside Lee High School. When asked about the incident, Reed said he believes there is an order and process to the way things are done and that was not carried out.
“I think that there’s an orderly process to voicing any opposition. Whether it’s a street name, whether it’s a statue, or whatever it may be,” Reed said. “I think in our community we have to understand there are rules and laws that we have to abide by and that’s what we have to let guide us, despite our differences of opinion, and that was not done last night.” Reed said.
When it comes to leading the city, Reed said he likes to approach things by thinking of the long-term impact instead of the short-term gain. But, in these unprecedented times, there isn’t a “training manual” for how to deal with certain situations.
“I think there's a level of learning that I'm dealing with, but it's no different than a two term mayor of New York City is dealing with as well, because you haven't been in a situation where you've had civil unrest at a time of a global pandemic,” Reed added.
Reed believes leaders have a responsibility to look out for their cities as best they can, even though they cannot predict what the future may hold.
“So, we may over prepare, and we may go through a lot of various scenarios before, you know, we introduce an idea, before we try to implement something. But at the same time, we have to be able to respond in the moment in a way that is reflective of the city of Montgomery and those that we represent.” Reed said.