'You’re not going to burn our Huntsville down': Police chief addresses protest, violence

Madison County law enforcement officials held a briefing on Thursday to discuss Wednesday’s protest in downtown Huntsville.

Posted: Jun 4, 2020 11:29 AM
Updated: Jun 4, 2020 12:39 PM

UPDATE: Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray says intelligence shows there were people at the protest who are being looked for in other states, like Georgia and Virginia. He said there were probably 40 or 50 people from out of town who were “disrupters” bringing chemicals and handing out glasses.

Officials say this was not the NAACP’s group, and there was a clear distinction between the two groups. He says “anarchists” at the event got in their vehicles and left before they could be arrested.

McMurray says the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Huntsville police addressed the crowd after the rally, and they continued to block the street while they told them it was now an unlawful assembly. He says there were approximately 500 people there at that time.

According to McMurray, people in the crowd "broke out” protective gear like face masks and milk to protect their eyes from tear gas. He says they wanted to go hand to hand in combat at that time.

McMurray says they continued noise, requested for them to leave and gave final warnings. He says they asked Alabama State Troopers to come in and split the crowd in two, 90 minutes into the requests for people to leave.

Several cars were damaged, two officers were injured and some businesses’ windows were broken, McMurray says. He says one officer has light trauma to their head and another was hit in the head but is okay, as they had a helmet on at the time. The officers are back at work on Thursday.

McMurray says aside from the one person arrested for a firearms charge, there were two other people who had handguns in the large crowd. He says they didn’t get arrested because police couldn’t get to them, and they changed clothes and exchanged guns to avoid police.

Police picked up knives, batons, steel pipes and bottles of yellow liquid from the area, according to McMurray. He says they found secret weapons located all around the Madison County Courthouse.

“You’re not going to burn our Huntsville down,” McMurray said during the briefing on Thursday.

He says graffiti of anarchist symbols has been found in Huntsville, and a three-year-old child was picked up by officers during Wednesday’s event.

The people arrested are all residents of Madison County and are young adults, McMurray says.

Officials say they did not draw one gun the whole night. They say if people want the confederate statue removed in downtown Huntsville, they need to take the proper measures through the Alabama Attorney General’s Office.

FROM EARLIER:

Huntsville police are holding a briefing at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday to discuss the aftermath of the rally Wednesday night against George Floyd’s death.

Officers put on riot gear and told protesters at the rally in downtown Huntsville to get off the streets. They called for an end to the protest, saying it was an unlawful assembly.

This followed a peaceful protest and rally from the Huntsville-Madison County NAACP earlier in the afternoon.

There were 24 people arrested after the protest. There was one firearms charge, three receiving stolen property charges after police said the suspects were detained with fire extinguishers that had been removed from the parking deck on Clinton Avenue and 21 disorderly conduct charges. One person received two charges.

Police say an officer got minor injuries after something was thrown at him.

Stay with WAAY 31 for updates on what’s said during Thursday’s briefing.

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