Activist calls on protesters to remain vigilant

Message behind the movement

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As protests continue across the country and right here at home, some worry the real message behind the movement is getting overlooked.

Multiple arrests across the metro area and last Sunday’s riot have taken over headlines since protests began in the state.

The truth, there have been more peaceful protests in the metro area than non-peaceful, but last Sunday night when rioters and looters took over downtown Birmingham, the focus, to some, seemed to shift and the real message behind the movement was muddied.

“90% of the people were good, but about 10% were off their rockers. I for sure didn’t recognize a lot of the people breaking stuff,” protester Austin Gibbs said.

Activist Celida Sota Garcia believes there is a bigger plan at play.

“Learning about how the federal government initiated COINTELPRO (Counterintelligence Program) to try to extinguish the Black Panther Party because they knew it was powerful, because they knew it was going to proliferate change. This is what we’re dealing with now,” said Alabama Arise activist Celida Soto Garcia.

Law enforcement is still working to identify those involved in the riot.

The positive messages of solidarity in affecting change can be seen in the same place were some sought to destroy, artists set out to create murals downtown and invited neighbors to help.

We spoke to Tanya Twerdowsky with The Modern Brand who created a large Black Lives Matter mural complete with hand prints of neighbors.

“A message of support and to show our community that we are here, that Black Lives Matter, and it has grown into something so beautiful,” said Twerdowsky.

Couple Tommy Townsend and Emily Black of Birmingham stepped up to help. “We were witness to the riot on Sunday and we wanted to help bring our community together,” Black said.

We asked Garcia what protesters hope to achieve. “Abolish and redesign. We need to dismantle systemic racism in our country. We need to dismantle acts of violence in our country,” she demanded.

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