MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier is reacting following the arrest of Alabama state Senator Sen. Hank Sanders' wife, Rose Sanders, who is charged with stealing campaign signs Monday night.
Collier said Sanders' arrest came after several weeks of complaints to the police department that she'd been seen removing campaign signs. Collier said that because no one was willing to come forward and sign a warrant against Sanders, his office couldn't do anything.
The police chief added that it was not until his officers witnessed the woman removing signs Monday that they were able to charge her with a misdemeanor.
Senator Sanders came to his wife's defense in a news conference Wednesday morning. He said her arrest centers on the "illegal placement" of campaign signs throughout the city and added that prior to his wife's arrests she made complaints to the city about the discriminatory removal of campaign signs on public rights of way.
According to the city of Selma, an ordinance prevents political signs from being placed on public rights of way.
"They were leaving the signs of the white candidates on the right of ways while removing the signs of black candidates placed in the same areas," Hank Sanders said.
Sen. Sanders said his wife told law enforcement if they continued to discriminate enforcement of the law, she would then remove the signs left on public rights of way.
On Monday, Sanders says his wife was driving by Tabernacle Baptist Church with the couple's 11-year-old granddaughter when she saw a sign on the public right of way. She stopped the car, got out and removed the sign.
"A Tabernacle Church Deacon thanked her for removing the sign. He said they had objected to the sign's being there to no avail, but because it was on public right of way they had not removed it," Hank Sanders said.
Hank Sanders also discussed why Rose did not immediately stop for officers saying someone in an unmarked vehicle began to follow her and when they turned on their flashing lights she waited until she was in a location where other people were to pull over safely.
Rose Sanders was later taken into custody following the brief pursuit, Selma police say. She faces charges of theft of property fourth degree and attempting to elude a police officer. Each carrying a $1000 bond.
"Because she had our 11-year-old granddaughter with her, she asked them if she could call someone to come and pick her up. The police refused, and they left our 11-year-old granddaughter alone downtown with people she did not know," Hank Sanders claimed.
Rose Sanders is currently protesting by refusing to post bond. She remains in the Dallas County Jail, her husband confirmed.
"She also was and is protesting the fact the police prohibited her from calling anyone to take care of her 11-year-old child whom the police just left on the street corner," Hank Sanders added.
Sanders says his wife hopes her circumstances will bring attention and change to injustices that have been ongoing in the city.
Collier also responded to claims made by Hank Sanders that his wife had complained to the police chief about death threats against her but hadn't heard anything back.
Collier said he personally met with Mrs. Sanders, assigned an investigator to look into the threats, and confirmed an investigation is ongoing.