The Alabama Poor People’s Campaign (APPC), a movement for moral revival, had their concluding demonstration on Monday. Revs. Carolyn and Allgood, tri-chairs of the demonstration in Montgomery welcomed the gathering to the base of the Alabama State Capitol.
“We in Alabama are part of the Bible Belt. Well if you believe that, live your authentic faith and call our elected officials to task. This is about the distortion of our moral narrative,” said Rev. Foster.
Thirty minutes later, under the gaze of law enforcement and various special agents, Carole Griffin and Shea Rivers formed a procession. Several people ascended the Capitol steps towards the Confederate Memorial Monument.
State troopers, special security detail and employees from the Department of Public Safety stood by. Justin Williams, the only special security detail to wear a badge, stood in a far corner taking notes; his colleague hovered in front to video record the protest.
Members of the Poor People’s Campaign released bottles of chalk powder, baptizing the Confederate Memorial Monument with color. Police immediately scrambled, unsure of how to interfere with the peaceful protest.
Those involved with coloring the statue were physically apprehended and lead off-site before they were verbally informed of their rights. Remaining troopers dispersed all people from the public property, including unaffiliated parties.
Among those arrested was Harvard-educated civil rights activist and lawyer, Faya Ora Rose Touré and Pastor Barnhart from Saint Junia United Methodist Church — the pastor’s second arrest during an APPC event.
Pastor Barnhart described his arrest as privileged: “I got grabbed, but it was not forceful. He shouted, “No sir! No!” I stopped as soon as he touched me and didn’t continue throwing, and he de-escalated pretty quick. I got metal cuffs this time, but they were not too tight.”
Barnhart had previously been arrested with APPC for staying past closing time at the State Capitol.
Faya, a nationally recognized activist, has been also been arrested multiple times with several civil rights coalitions and is well known by Montgomery police. Faya was apprehended by three police officers and one special security agent.
“They used more force on me compared to others who were arrested. There was a different level of aggressive action used. Look at my wrist. It’s swollen now,” she said, holding up her left wrist.
The special agent assigned to the APPC event refused to identify himself, or the role he played in Monday’s protest.
As the chalk settled, Stephen Tidwell, Alabama state House Speaker Mac McCutcheon’s director of security, walked down the capitol’s steps with me. I asked for the logistics of Montgomery’s response to the protest. Direct Tidwell paused and stated: “It’s surrounding law enforcement agencies — we all do this, all the time. Whether it’s a parade, a rally, or whatever, we all work together no matter what it is. We are all right here in each other’s backyards.”
Tidwell went on to confirm that all photographs and recordings would be kept as evidence; however, he was not able to name the special agent that apprehended Faya.