Black Lives Matter group protests Montgomery's city council meeting

Published: Mar. 1, 2016 at 10:59 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 31, 2016 at 9:59 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The City of Montgomery said the city council's Tuesday evening meeting did not end prematurely, despite protests from several people holding 'Black Lives Matter' signs during the proceedings.

Michael Briddell, Montgomery's Director of Public Information and External Affairs, said the meeting ended because the agenda was short, not because of protests.

The meeting was fraught with tension as Montgomery police officers ultimately removed one protester who took to Mayor Todd Strange's podium during his message to the council.

As soon as Strange took to the podium to read his message, activist Karen Jones, rushed the podium holding a Black Lives Matter sign in the Mayor's face. Jones refused to move and the two continued to clash. Montgomery Police Officers had to escort Jones back to her seat after a few tense moments.

Strange then called for a moment of silence, honoring Gregory Gunn, his family and the officer involved.

"Because at the end of the day, the truth will be revealed and when the truth is revealed then we will know what direction that we have to go," he said.

But the protesters could not be silenced.

"My message is for the black community to come together, stand up don't be afraid to say black lives matter, don't water it down with all lives matter, when they shot that black man like a dog, they took us back 51 years," said Jones.

Montgomery City Council President Charles Jinright says the Black Lives Matter demonstrators disrupted their meeting.

"Some people have to make a show, and they need a place to get their show and that's sad," said Jinright.

Councilor Fred Bell voted not to suspend the rules, sidelining businesses applying for liquor licenses for two weeks. During the meeting, Jones voiced her opposition to every agenda item, tying it back to Gunn's death.

"I thought that was my small way to diffuse the situation, we don't want Ferguson and whether people believe it or not there's a certain fraction of the community, they are very upset, whether they're right or wrong, they're upset," said Bell.

As emotions continued to rise, Jinright cut the tension with his gavel, adjourning during public communications on non-agenda items.

"I think the council as a whole was dissatisfied with what was going on and we decided to adjourn the meeting," said Jinright.

We asked the city's Public Relations Specialist for a comment from Mayor Strange, to address what happened, we were told the Mayor said what transpired didn't deserve a comment.

The protest was in regards to the death of Montgomery resident Gregory Gunn who was shot and killed by an MPD officer in the early morning hours of Feb. 25.

Mayor Strange identified the officer during a contentious news conference Monday as 23-year-old A.C. Smith. The investigation was turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation, standard practice when an officer fires his weapon.

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