Saying they were “profoundly disturbed” by the about-face of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, two state lawmakers and a civil rights group renewed their call for Battle and Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray to resign and requested that the U.S. Department of Justice open an investigation into the city’s police department.
State Reps. Anthony Daniel, the House Minority Leader, and Laura Hall joined the Rosa Parks Day Committee in issuing the new statement Wednesday — a week after the Committee had backed off of its call for Battle’s resignation following a meeting with the mayor.
At issue are statements made by Battle and McMurray following the murder conviction of still-employed police officer William Darby. Both continued to back Darby and said they disagreed with the verdict.
However, following last week’s meeting between the mayor and the Rosa Parks Day Committee, Battle recanted his statement and issued a new one. That statement said only that Darby had the right to an appeal.
At a press conference following the meeting, Committee members, and Daniels and Hall, spoke about the situation and agreed that they would in turn retract their demand for Battle’s resignation.
However, the following day, in a bizarre statement to al.com, Battle recanted his recant, saying he “stands by both statements.”
“The Rosa Parks Day Committee is profoundly disturbed by the Mayor’s renewed affirmation of Officer Darby, and believe it reflects poorly on the city of Huntsville – especially as its role in state and national affairs continues to grow,” the committee’s statement read. “We also believe that his alignment with Officer Darby raises questions about the Mayor’s understanding of our justice system and respect for the rule of law – and undermines the credibility of his own designation of Huntsville as an inclusive community via his ‘One Huntsville’ campaign.”
The Committee, Daniels and Hall also canceled a scheduled meeting with Battle, saying they don’t believe continued talks will do any good.
In a response, Battle said he was disappointed that the meeting was canceled.
“I am disappointed the members of the Rosa Parks Day Committee have chosen to end productive dialogue,” Battle said. “We had a good conversation last Wednesday and were set to meet again this week to collaborate on solutions for a better Huntsville. Progress is difficult without dialogue. This administration will continue to communicate with all interested parties seeking to build bridges and make this community and our police department the best they possibly can be. We look forward to many more productive meetings with our community partners.”
However, the Rosa Parks Day Committee indicated it believes that a discussion with Battle, given his immediate turn after last week’s meeting, was pointless. The group, Daniels and Hall also indicated that they have lost faith that Huntsville leaders can correct the ongoing problems within the police department. As a result, they are requesting the DOJ open an investigation.