In the midst of a meeting that lasted more than five hours, the Huntsville City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for an independent review of the police response to protests that took place at the beginning of the month.
Following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, protests began in Huntsville and elsewhere across North Alabama. On June 1 and June 3, Huntsville Police and the Madison County Sheriff's Office used gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters around the Madison County Courthouse.
During Thursday's city council meeting, members decided to combine the resolutions put forward by Councilwoman Francis Akridge and Councilman Bill Kling.
The resolution that was approved calls for the 10-member Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council (HPCAC) to "fully review the protests and demonstrations which began on or about May 30, 2020, especially those which occurred on June 1 and 3, 2020, as to the interactions between the protesters and demonstrators and the Huntsville Police Department."
The review will allow the HPCAC to have access "to any resources at the Huntsville Police Department, including access to employees involved in the events to be investigated and documentary evidence, such as video footage from aerial surveillance and body cameras, provided employees shall retain any constitutional or procedural protections to which they are entitled under the constitution and/or statutes of the United States and/or the State of Alabama or the Employee Policies and Procedures of the City of Huntsville."
Once completed, the HPCAC will present their report to the Huntsville City Council during one of their meetings "in open session."
Before the vote, Kling mentioned that the meetings of the HPCAC are, and have always been, public and the dates for future meetings will be published so that the public can attend them.
During the meeting, about 40 Huntsville residents spoke about their concerns regarding both the police response to the protests as well as the Confederate monument that sits in front of the Madison County Courthouse.
Many of them called for the resignation of Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray after they claimed he misled the public during his after action report to the city council last week.
"We are concerned the chief's perception appears to be driven by biases, false assumptions, group think and fear, which led to unnecessary escalation," said Sarah Brown, a member of the Citizens Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform.
The original resolutions called for the HPCAC to have their report ready for the city council by the August 13 meeting. However, that language was taken out of the resolution, which passed on Thursday.
The HPCAC's review is designed to "remain independent of influence by the City Council or the Administration."