SURVEYING THE DAMAGE: DOWNTOWN BIRMINGHAM CLEANING UP AFTER PROTESTS TURN VIOLENT

Birmingham Cleanup

More than 20 people were arrested and firefighters responded to 20 different fires as some protestors in downtown Birmingham on Sunday, May 31, turned to vandalism.

Damage and destruction covered the downtown area. Marchers left Linn Park, went across 18th and 19th streets, and down Sixth and Seventh avenues into the heart of the city center.

The Hugo L. Black Federal Courthouse had its front door busted. A nearby Urban Cookhouse wound up with broken windows. A discount clothing store was set on fire and destroyed.

Jacqueline Stewart, who runs a large day care, said she had many windows at her day care broken. Such destruction isn’t helping the cause, she said.

“Look and see what you’ve done, not only to the property, but to the people behind the property,” she said. “It’s not going to hurt the police who stood on, who kneeled on the man’s neck. It’s not going to hurt him. It’s hurting me and it’s hurting those I would serve who were looking to be served today.”

Zak Robertson and his business Engineering Design Technologies have been downtown for 14 years. He said it’s sad seeing all the destruction.

“You know we’ve seen a lot of progress downtown and now you see this and it’s sad,” he said. “It’s sad to see.  We can still overcome it but there are a lot of things that we have to work on.”

The crowds moved through Birmingham’s theater district, breaking out windows in the historic Alabama Theater, and Kelly Ingram Park didn’t escape vandalism, either.

Large planters near the park pavilion were destroyed, and shrubbery was doused in gasoline and set on fire in the shadows of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s statue, the 16th Street Baptist Church and the Civil Rights Institute.

Many residents said downtown Birmingham is a great place to live, work and play. Even after last night’s vandalism, it still will be.

Stewart said she’s asking people to realize that there’s only one race and that’s the human race.

Linn Park also saw extensive damage to the controversial memorial honoring Civil War and World War I veterans. They also pulled down a bronze statue of George Linn, one of the founders of the city and planner responsible for the parks in the city.

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