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Bill Britt

Analysis | Sheriffs’ revolt part of political stagecraft

Bill Britt



Several Alabama sheriffs with the support of some state legislators are refusing to enforce the state health order that restricts certain activities to stem the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 9,000 Alabamians and claimed the lives of at least 369 individuals.

However, the sheriffs’ refusal to enforce has now become a subplot in the political stagecraft being written around alleged infringements of personal liberty.

The actual law is clear under Alabama Code section 22-2-14: a failure or refusal to obey or comply with any rule or regulation adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Health is a misdemeanor crime.

The statute reads, “Any person who knowingly violates or fails or refuses to obey or comply with any rule or regulation adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Health of this state shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than $25.00 nor more than $500.00 and, if the violation or failure or refusal to obey or comply with such rule or regulation is a continuing one, each day’s violation, or failure or refusal shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punished accordingly.”

One of the major duties of a sheriff is “ferreting out crime,” according to the Alabama Sheriffs Association’s Executive Director Bobby Timmons.

Timmons, who has led the Association since 1975, says that sheriffs can’t pick and choose which laws they will enforce. But he also contends there has been some misunderstanding in the press as well as among sheriffs.

“The governor can not make a law,” said Timmons. “She can issue an order.” Likewise, “the department of public health can issue an order,” and it has the weight of law, “under Alabama Code session 22-2-14.”

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Timmons says that Attorney General Steve Marshall “needs to issue a letter of instruction as to what needs to be done and how to carry it out.”

But Marshall is playing along with those who are making the safer-at-home order a political hot button.

In a statement to, Marshall’s office said, “The Attorney General agrees that enforcement of the order against churches would be ill-advised. He has been assured that the state health order will soon be amended to better accommodate the free exercise of religion.”


While sheriffs in Lamar, Marshall, Blount, Baldwin and Franklin Counties have stated varying degrees of resistance, lawmakers are taking advantage of the turmoil.

Republican state senators on Wednesday used the crisis as an opportunity to change the law that gives the Public Health Officer authority.

Senate Bill 334 would automatically end a state of emergency after just 14 days unless an extension was approved through a joint resolution from the Legislature.

Such power grabs are not unusual in times of intense political upheaval, but the bill will likely die with a whimper if it ever makes it to the House.

A small band of protesters marched around the State House and Capitol on Tuesday, demanding the Governor lift the latest restrictions.

Led by former State Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, under the banner of a group called Alabama Small Business Coalition, the marchers called for Ivey to quickly reopen the state’s economy.

Sanford said the protest was “kind of an organic thing.”

“We just want the Governor to know that there is a lot of business owners that are hurting. They want to get back to work,” Sanford said. “The best thing you can do for small businesses is an opportunity to reopen. They are not asking for handouts. They are asking for the opportunity to do what they do best, and that is their own operations.”

Freshman State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, took it a step further, saying, “I don’t know why we are continually being oppressed, and we have so much governmental overreach.”

Unconstitutional government overreach has become a battle cry for many conservatives not only in Alabama but around the nation.

The United States Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to lift a Pennsylvania order that shut down all of nonessential businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The suit was brought by a group of Pennsylvania businesses asking for a stay to halt the enforcement of the state’s restrictions on businesses, arguing that they have done “substantial, unprecedented damage to the economy,” according to a report by U.S. News. “The high court denied the stay without any reports of dissent among the justices.”

The court’s action seems to indicate that nothing constitutionally evil is at hand, but that doesn’t stop the political gamesmanship, which is now part of the novel coronavirus landscape.

The sheriffs’ refusal to enforce the law is not strictly a political matter. Alabama Code session 22-2-14 is the law. Sheriffs and other elected officials in the state take an oath of office to support the state’s constitution and to faithfully and honestly discharge the duties of their office. Failing to do so is a breach of that oath and could lead to removal from office.

But this is politics, not a public health issue or a constitutional one, and so, the loudest voices will gather attention while the COVID-19 pandemic rages.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.


Bill Britt

Opinion | It’s a virus, stupid

As healthcare professionals put their lives on the line, and scientists work to find a solution to our present dilemma, we now clearly see the true character of what passes for leadership in these troubling days.

Bill Britt




While healthcare professionals and scientists work tirelessly to overcome the deadly pathogen, SARS-CoV-2, a small but vocal band of individuals claim that the new coronavirus is a hoax and that being ordered to wear a face mask is tantamount to tyranny.

Virologists and doctors tell us that COVID-19 is real and that merely wearing a mask will cut the viruses spread to almost nothing.

Yet anti-maskers and the hoaxers — usually the same — deny the facts and choose instead to believe that the global pandemic only serves to harm the U.S. economy and dim the chances of President Donald Trump’s reelection.

What an insular, mindless and vain world these people must live in to think that a worldwide pandemic’s only aim is to affect their wallet and politics.

These individuals are a hindrance to controlling the virus because they act irrationally and irresponsibly. They endanger others lives while boasting a right to do so.

It’s not that they are ill-informed; they have plenty of data and talking points to back their erroneous claims. But their information is wrong and informed by conspiracy theories and herd mentality.

It is not unusual for the egocentric to think the world revolves around them or for self-proclaimed political experts of a certain ilk to see a hidden hand in world events. But in this case, it’s a virus, stupid.

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It’s very human to search for meaning in uncertain times or to place unfounded significance on needless suffering. Trying to find order amid chaos is difficult and often impossible.

Some see the hand of God. For others, the churning of nature and a myriad of things in-between.

Interestingly, there has not been a religious prophecy that the coronavirus pandemic is God’s punishment for a particular sin.


When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, some fundamentalists claimed it was God’s wrath on a sinful nation. So, it has been for centuries that a few religious leaders have said that vengeance was the moving force behind any number of other natural disasters, but somehow not the coronavirus.

For many, what they know and what they believe about COVID-19 is based on politics.

A Pew Research poll last month found that nearly half of all Republicans surveyed thought that it was definitely or probably true that powerful people intentionally planned the coronavirus outbreak. Over half — 66 percent — said it was difficult to determine if the information about COVID-19 was true or false. While 75 percent said they trusted the facts coming from the White House, Democrats believe almost the complete opposite.

Viruses have no allegiance to any nation or political movements; people or parties. They are equal opportunity destroyers.

The idea that COVID-19 is a hoax is prominent primarily among Republicans, but many of other political persuasions act as if the disease doesn’t exist by their behavior.

Former game show host Chuck Woolery made news last week when Trump retweeted Woolery saying everyone is lying about COVID-19.

“The most outrageous lies are the ones about COVID-19. Everyone is lying,” Woolery said in a tweet.

“The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it,” Woolery concluded.

Soon after his post, Woolery’s son was diagnosed with COVID-19, and this changed his thinking. Before deleting his Twitter account, Woolery wrote, “COVID-19 is real and it is here.”

State Senator Randy Price, who called for Gov. Kay Ivey to open the state’s economy early, contracted COVID-19 along with his wife. In a recent press release, he said, “We all know someone who has COVID-19, and it is so important to follow the advice of public health experts: wear a mask, wash your hands or use sanitizer, respect social distancing, and don’t get complacent.”

Others have experienced similar “Road to Damascus” moments, but overall dogged denial continues with a religious fervor among anti-maskers and hoaxers.

There is also a cadre of wannabe Jeffersons, who insist that the state’s mask ordinance is unconstitutional.

Their pocket-sized Voltaire may gather a Facebook following, but people who understand the law are laughing at their lunacy and short-lived vainglory.

Perhaps here, Voltaire’s words speak volumes, “Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power.”

Masks are mainly to protect others, not the fool who refuses to wear one, so when an anti-masker goes out in public, they are threatening others’ health and safety, something that might truly be unlawful.

A quick google search will inform even the most dimwitted so-called patriots that they are wrong about the constitutionality of a face covering mandate.

In times of public health emergencies, the state has tremendous power to regulate public safety.

A report by the American Bar Association found, “Under the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment and U.S. Supreme Court decisions over nearly 200 years, state governments have the primary authority to control the spread of dangerous diseases within their jurisdictions.” They further note, “The 10th Amendment, which gives states all powers not specifically given to the federal government, allows them the authority to take public health emergency actions, such as setting quarantines and business restrictions.”

Alabama Code 22-2-14 sets the perimeters under which health orders such as face masks bear the weight of law.

“Any person who knowingly violates or fails or refuses to obey or comply with any rule or regulation adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Health of this state shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than $25.00 nor more than $500.00 and, if the violation or failure or refusal to obey or comply with such rule or regulation is a continuing one, each day’s violation, or failure or refusal shall constitute a separate offense and shall be punished accordingly.”

Mask ordinances are like smoking bans. The city, county, or state can enforce these acts because second-hand smoke is seen as a health hazard for others.

Those who howl that masks are unconstitutional have neither the intellect nor the courage to wage an actual revolution, much less define one.

But because masks have become a political statement, many hope to capitalize on the divide to attract attention to themselves.

Perhaps they could test the limits of the state’s right to regulate smoking by walking into a hospital and lighting a cigar. Or those women who find masks unconstitutional should try shopping at a big box store topless.

It’s an easily understood health order, “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” add masks.

These absurdities are perhaps understandable given that from Washington D.C. to Montgomery, leaders are feeding the public dangerous lies and conspiracy theories.

When Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh recently suggested that he wanted to see more people infected with COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity, state and local media took alarming notice, but in May when he suggested the virus was purposely sent to upend the state’s economy, it was barely mentioned in the press.

Near the end of May, in an appearance on APT’s Capitol Journal, Marsh said, “I believed from day one it [COVID-19] was an organized way to slow down the economy.”

Here is the Republican leader of the Alabama Senate claiming unnamed enemies are working against the state and nation to destabilize our economy. Of course, Marsh is not alone; many in his caucus believe the same outlandish falsehoods.

So, Marsh and his kind would have people believe that over half a million individuals around the world were murdered just to ruin the U.S. and Alabama economy and influence a presidential election.

Ignorance and arrogance are never more potent than in a crisis, and wisdom and patience are rarely rewarded in a political climate that encourages anti-science babblers and budding autocrats.

The number of Americans dead from COVID-19 would overflow Bryant-Denny Stadium, but somehow the virus isn’t real or as dangerous as “they” say.

The number of sick in Alabama is increasing every day, and more deaths will follow.

How callous, unthinking and uncaring are those who traffic in lies and fail to protect their neighbor’s health.

As healthcare professionals put their lives on the line, and scientists work to find a solution to our present dilemma, we now clearly see the true character of what passes for leadership in these troubling days.

Lies and misguided patriotism is not an answer; it is the root of the problem.

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Bill Britt

Opinion | A search for the American conscience

Our response to the immediate crisis will surely determine our long-term destiny, and the collective conscience of “we the people” can be the moral force that brings about needed change.

Bill Britt



U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights with a quill pen. (Stock photo)

A seemingly unstoppable virus, a sputtering economy and a cry for equal justice for Black citizens are trying the very soul of our nation. We stand at a time when the very conscience of our county and state is being tested in ways perhaps unimaginable just a few months ago.

Is there an American conscience?

Our government, our institutions and even who we are as a people are in question, and as with life in general, there are no easy answers.

Nearly 130,000 in the U.S. have lost their lives to COVID-19. In Alabama, almost 1,000 souls, and yet some of our citizens don’t even believe the virus exists, and if it does, some think it is not as bad as health professionals say.

Hospitals are being pushed to the brink, both physically and financially. While unemployment numbers are improving, there is a yet a steep hill to climb before fiscal solvency is restored to all Alabamians.

There are arguments over masks, fights over monuments and some are corrosively dismissive of the social injustice that disproportionately targets Black citizens.

The winds of change are blowing seeds of renewal; will they find a fallow ground or fall among the weeds and rocks?

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Many of our citizens want the nation to remain in the past, a past that, for the most part, never existed. Others desire that the country move forward and fulfill its greatest promises.

Can a house divided stand?

This national crisis of moral conscience is where the dividing line is drawn.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil.”

In this rendering, it is as if an unseen umpire sits somewhere in our minds and judges our actions.

But if the conscience is formed from birth and as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy suggests, “is like an empty box that can be filled with any type of moral content,” then our learning and understanding is the umpire and not some innate righteous force.

Is this why seemingly reasonable people see things so differently?

Take, for example, the Black Lives Matter movement. According to a recent CBS/YouGov poll, a majority of the American public, including more than half of white Americans, say they agree with the Black Lives Matter movement’s ideas.

The June CBS/YouGov survey also found a partisan divide exists on the issue with most Democrats and Independents supportive while a “large majority of Republicans say they disagree with the ideas expressed by the Black Lives Matter” and most Republicans also oppose the protests—though “one-quarter of Republicans join that majority of Democrats in supporting them.”

The poll is neither startling nor unimaginable and only confirms a divided nation.

The same schism can be found when individuals are polled about the new coronavirus and monuments.

Since individuals see things through entirely different apertures, is it possible to turn to a national conscience for resolution?

On December 23, 1776, Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

Paine was rallying the people of the American colonies to a revolution that would form a new nation with an aspirational promise of equality and unalienable rights, “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

America just celebrated its 244th year of independence and the principles of the new nation were well-defined — even if not universally applied.

For Black Americans, the promise of the founding principles is yet unfulfilled.

Yes, the laws changed in the 60s, but there is still a long way to go in practice. Laws in themselves do not alter hearts and minds.

Alabama’s 1901 Constitution was written to deny equal access to justice for Black and poor Alabamians by keeping Montgomery as the power center from which all money and rights would flow. There have been changes but none so great as to amend the wrongs written into the state’s founding document.

A few short years ago, the state government passed a law that protected Confederate monuments that state lawmakers thought should be preserved as part of Southern heritage.

What monuments are revered speaks to national and local character. Is our character one that says we should honor those who sought to ensure the continuance of human bondage?

Should we honor those who preached and enforced segregation for political gain?

There is another way to look at statues and that is to realize that they are more reflective of the thinking at the time than the shrine itself.

If monuments are artifacts of the moment and not truthfully to honor history, then what they mean today is an open subject for debate.

Is the statue of Jefferson Davis on the Capitol grounds in Montgomery a symbol of who we are now or a reminder of who Alabama citizens were at the time it was erected?

This is not about erasing history but about recognizing monuments for what they are and acknowledging their meaning to all citizens.

The fact that most world religions warn against idols shouldn’t be lost in the moment either. Statues are tricky because heroes are almost always redefined by present events.

While nations should be built on laws alone, they are also made on myths and legends. But history has a way of exposing myths and bringing legends low.

Washington could tell a lie, Honest Abe was not always truthful, and under our current law application, some people are more equal than others. Should their memorials be removed because they were flawed? No

In his work “Adam Smith on the nature and authority of conscience,” Albert Shin argues, “there is a need to cultivate our conscience. We do so; I will argue, primarily through encountering diversity, which leads to disagreements, which prompt us to reevaluate how we judge others.”

Again the Catholic Church finds, “Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.”

Are we more divided than ever? Probably not.

Is there a way out of the present threefold dilemma? Yes.

Returning to our founding principles while understanding that they are for everyone is a start. But principles shouldn’t change with every election or be sacrificed to win one.

Indeed, King George III thought those who staged the Boston Tea Party were thugs and looters, set to overthrow the government.

No, they were ordinary citizens who saw injustice and launched a revolution.

Today, we do not see so much a call for revolution but a demand for evolution across a broad front of problems.

There is now a need for better respect for health and science, for our neighbors of all skin colors and a rethinking of the inequities of poverty.

Our response to the immediate crisis will surely determine our long-term destiny, and the collective conscience of “we the people” can be the moral force that brings about needed change.

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Bill Britt

Opinion | Who will stand and lead?

Bill Britt



Alabama is beset by a worldwide pandemic, economic collapse and a growing cry for social justice for its black citizens.

Anyone of these crises alone would require superior leadership of conscience, fortitude and political skill. But at this moment, who is leading?

The silence of the state’s top leaders is troubling but speaks to the paralyzing effects of polarizing politics.

As the number of sick, hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 continues to rise in Alabama, the voices of those in charge are painfully silent.

Has the state abdicated its responsibility for the health and safety of its citizens in favor of hoping for a quick economic rebound?

In the wale of the protest that began with the killing of George Floyd and continues today, on the Republican side, only a few have offered constructive comments.

In a recent column Congressman Bradley Byrne wrote, “These last few weeks have riveted the country’s attention on police brutality. The murder of George Floyd was an atrocity, and unfortunately, it’s not the first one. As we have so often in our history, it’s time for America to respond with appropriate and reasonable reform. It’s not time to lose our heads, however.”

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He also said, “Let’s say it plainly. Black people are of equal moral value as white people. It’s Biblical; it’s American. And to treat people differently based on their race is morally and legally repugnant. To injure or kill them for the same reason goes against everything we stand for.”

Byrne argues that it is mostly a local issue and singles out only rouge cops, but it’s a starting point for dialogue.

Gov. Kay Ivey, in a June 1 statement said, “Like so many others throughout the country and around the world, I, too, was shocked and angered by the tragic actions that led to the senseless death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis,” Ivey said. “It is a death that should have never happened, and it is a tragedy for which that too many people, especially African Americans, are all too familiar.”


While Ivey condemned violent protests, she recalled that Alabama citizens have a rich history of using “peaceful protests to lead the country – and the world – to positive change.”

While peaceful protest did, in fact, over time bring about change, it would require willful ignorance to forget Alabama’s Bloody Sunday where civil protesters were beaten by law enforcement or the Birmingham Campaign where Bull Connor’s police and fire department clubbed, fire hosed and sicced attack dogs on the activists.

Alabama’s peaceful protests were marked repeatedly by brutal acts against black citizens who were only asking for the promises made at the nation’s founding.

The state’s history of racism is legend, and even the State’s 1901 Constitution was and still is used as a segregationist weapon to oppress blacks Alabamians.

In a campaign to drum up voter support for the 1901 Constitution, an advertisement read, “White Supremacy! Honest Elections! and the New Constitution! One and Inseparable!”

So, where is the state’s white Republican supermajority? Certainly they all don’t believe the novel coronavirus is a hoax to ruin the economy and defeat President Donald Trump.

How many must die before the human cost demands they stop lying?

Surely not all of them think protesters are thugs and anarchists.

How many more years must black citizens face injustice before they say “enough?”

There comes a time when a leader must stand for those who are being wronged and those who are sick and dying.

When will the state’s elected leaders stand for more than the next election?

Perhaps it’s time to turn away from Montgomery and to the big city mayors as an example of how to get things accomplished. The big five city mayors have done remarkable work guiding their cities during the COVID-19 outbreak.

And except for Huntsville, these five mayors — three Democrats and two Republicans — have managed to keep Black Lives Matter protests mostly peaceful.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has faced the most challenges and has shown courageous and wise leadership. Likewise, Montgomery’s Steven Reed, Tuscaloosa’s Walt Maddox, and Mobile’s Sandy Stimpson have displayed calm, decisive guidance through both the COVID-19 panic and the protest. Only Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle has stumbled, allowing law-enforcement to teargas and fire rubber bullets at the mostly peaceful protesters. In all other respects, he has done well, but he should renounce the police actions that took place in his city.

In a state where leaders often cite scripture, it is perhaps time to remember Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 14:8 where he said, “Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?”

It’s not surprising, but it is disappointing that so many of the state’s leaders remain voiceless when a call to action is needed.

Where is the leader who says, “The pandemic is at its worst right now. Stay home when you can, wear a mask when you go out, avoid large gatherings, and care for your neighbor.”

Where is the one who stands up and says that black citizens are being repressed, underrepresented and abused?

Who dares say “Black Lives Matter” without a caveat.

Our state once again is being tried and failing is always an option, but let’s pray we don’t fail again.

People are jobless, sick and dying, and our black citizens are being mistreated in so many ways.

If, as Dr. King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” let it bend now in our state’s time of need.

And let leaders stand up for justice for all.

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Bill Britt

Opinion | Echoes of George Wallace heard as tear gas and rubber bullets fly in Huntsville

Bill Britt



A small group of mostly peaceful protesters were shot with rubber bullets and tear-gassed by Huntsville Police and Madison County sheriff’s deputies after an NAACP rally last Wednesday.

The city’s mayor, police chief and the state’s attorney general want the public to believe that anarchists and outsiders provoked law-enforcement to use paramilitary tactics to disperse protesters on the courthouse square.

A video obtained by APR shows peaceful protesters being sprayed, gassed and shot with rubber bullets, as law-enforcement in black-clad riot gear pushed them from the city center.

After the police began their assault, some protesters did hurl insults and a few firecrackers at the approaching officers.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, police chief Mark McMurray and attorney general Steve Marshall would later assert, without proof, that it was the presence of outside anarchists that led to a violent show of force by law enforcement.

It is a bizarre irony that those protesting police violence against black citizens were met with more police violence.

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But what took place in the supposedly progressive Madison County is just a continuation of the type of repressive brutality that has plagued the South for generations.

And the reasons given for the police action is older than “Dixie” and as false as the myth of “The Lost Cause.”

McMurray claimed in a press conference that sheriff’s deputies and police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters because anarchists had infiltrated their ranks.


“It’s an unauthorized protest against the government. That’s what it is. That’s what anarchists do. This was not NAACP. This was a separate splinter group that took advantage of a peaceful protest and hijacked it to cause anarchy against our government. Their way is to cause damage, set fires, loot, pillage.”

The idea of professionally trained anarchists whipping up crowds during protest marches is the latest justification for deploying military-style aggression against U.S. citizens.

Battle, in a statement the next day, said he supported law enforcement’s tactics and that outsiders were to blame for the police action.

“What occurred after the NAACP event was disheartening. A second event occurred, structured by people who were not part of our community,” Battle said.

While Battle didn’t use the word anarchists to describe the protesters, he accused “people who were not part of our community” for inciting police violence.

Marshall agreed with McMurray and Battle’s assessment that outsiders and anarchists were the reason law-enforcement fired on protesters. In a press statement, he said he was “satisfied” that the officers had acted appropriately.

According to McMurray, at least 24 people were arrested that evening, all of them from Madison County.

McMurray said that only Madison County residents were detained because professional anarchists know how to avoid arrest.

“The anarchists who came prepared and armed, they’re now going to another city to do the exact same thing,” the chief said. “They know how not to get arrested.”

But directly after the incident, Lt. Michael Johnson of HPD, said the reason for the police action was because they weren’t “going to roll the dice” and take a chance that the crowd could become hostile.

Johnson, speaking soon after the police action, seems to have not yet received the memo about anarchists.

But these false narratives used by Battle, McMurray and Marshall are not new and can be seen in an April 1964, letter from Gov. George Wallace.

“[W]e have never had a problem in the South except in a few very isolated instances and these have been the result of outside agitators,” Wallace wrote to a Ms. Martin. 

“White and colored have lived together in the South for generations in peace and equanimity,” Wallace continued. “They each prefer their own pattern of society, their own churches and their own schools—which history and experience have proven are best for both races. (As stated before, outside agitators have created any major friction occurring between the races.)”

Wallace also claims that the news media and propagandists are the real problems and not segregationist policies.

“Contrary to reports of many of the national news media and the propaganda distributed by various organizations, our efforts here in the South are not against the Negro citizen. We fight for the betterment of all citizens in our State.”

He further claims to have done more for black citizens than anyone in the history of the State.

“I personally have done more for the Negroes of the State of Alabama than any other individual.”

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because even today, politicians hope the public is ignorant or so moved by calls for law and order as to miss the point of the protests.

The idea of a tranquil and even docile black population whipped into a frenzy by anarchists and outsiders is as repugnant today as Wallace’s.

Battle, McMurray, and Marshall’s coded racism is as repulsive today as Wallace’s was then.

The false notion that anarchists and outsiders are the reason for aggressive police actions should be condemned.

There should be an independent panel commissioned to investigate the Huntsville police and Madison County Sheriff’s office.

The specter of George Wallace now hangs over Huntsville’s Courthouse Square, and only the bright light of justice can remove it.

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