MPD Chief: Defacing, destruction of public property will not be tolerated

MPD Chief: Defacing, destruction of public property will not be tolerated
On July 16, a group that advocates for the expansion of Medicaid in Alabama wrote "Black Lives Matter" in front of the state capitol. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley has issued a message after the recent arrests of protesters in the city.

Finley said the department believes in the right and power of lawful protest, and if citizens use proper permitting, officers can partner with them to express their first amendment rights.

“However, the defacing and/or destruction of public property will not and cannot be tolerated regardless of who does it,” Finley said.

On Tuesday, several members of the Save Our Selves for Justice and Democracy group were arrested in front of the Alabama Capitol. A few appeared to be trying to spray paint the street in front of the Capitol, as had been done previously on July 16.

Finley said while MPD has policies to deal with situations like the recent demonstrator arrests, the department is always looking for ways to improve police-community interactions.

“To that end, while any protester involved in criminal activity will continue to be subject to prosecution in accordance with the law and MPD policy, we are implementing practices to ensure these same individuals are treated in a respectful and professional manner,” Finley said. “Ultimately, it is our hope to work together harmoniously to eliminate the need for arrests.”

Finley said MPD does not want anyone to be harmed or humiliated while standing up for the issues they believe in.

“Over the last several weeks our Department has proven that Montgomery honors the right to peacefully protest,” he said. “Our interactions with local community leaders in the wake of the George Floyd killing shows how Public Safety & Public Protest can coexist.”

Finley said it’s his sincere hope that police and citizens can work through recent difficulties and move forward together as a community.

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