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Police: Warrants secured after ‘Black Lives Matter’ painted in front of Alabama Capitol

Updated: Jul. 16, 2020 at 10:47 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery police say warrants have been secured for two people with more charges pending after a message was painted in front of the Alabama Capitol Thursday.

Karen Jones, 45, and Johnny Ford, 77, each face one count of “Deface any Public Building or Public Property,” Montgomery Police Department Capt. Saba Coleman says.

The Alabama Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy, which advocates for the expansion of Medicaid in Alabama, holds regular protests. Thursday’s protest was held on the steps of the state capitol.

The group is usually peaceful. On Thursday, protesters wrote “Black Lives Matter, Expand Medicaid” in spray paint on the road in front of the Alabama capitol.

A group that advocates for the expansion of Medicaid in Alabama wrote "Black Lives Matter" in...
A group that advocates for the expansion of Medicaid in Alabama wrote "Black Lives Matter" in front of the state capitol Thursday.(Source: WSFA 12 News)

The protest began with a live body “die-in” protesting the lack of expansion of Medicaid and the current health pandemic.

“This movement today is just as important as the movement was during the 60s,” said Johnny Ford, former Tuskegee mayor. “The only difference, then we were fighting for voting rights. Today, we’re fighting for health rights. We are fighting because, yes, Black lives matter.”

The group argues that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black Alabamians.

“Too many people are dying, and Black people dying are at a much higher rate. It is in the Governor’s power to stop some Alabamians from needlessly dying,” said former State Senator Hank Sanders. “All the Governor needs to do is initiate the process for the expansion of Medicaid. If this were an industry that would bring in one-fourth the jobs that the expansion of Medicaid will, the Governor and lawmakers would find the money to do it NOW. I know that from decades of firsthand experience. Alabama lives matter, Governor.”

Montgomery police officers were called in. Coleman said officers notified the City of Montgomery’s Traffic Engineering Department regarding the painting of the street. The paint was deemed noncompliant because organizers failed to request and obtain proper permitting and prior approval, which resulted in a crew being dispatched to the area.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.