Etowah County Sheriff questions whether protesters are marching without permits

Etowah Co. sheriff discusses recent protests

ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Etowah County’s sheriff says he was not trying to shut down protests when he wrote a letter raising legal questions about a series of marches in downtown Gadsden.

There have been three well-attended marches in the city dealing with racism, and police activity in other cities.

Sheriff Jonathon Horton says he’s concerned about traffic issues and protesters possibly getting hit by cars.

A spokesperson for Black Lives Matter Etowah County, Shunbrica Dozier, says there will be another one Sunday night at 5 p.m. that will kick off at 2417 West Meighan Boulevard.

He says he wrote a letter to Gadsden's mayor, police chief and city attorney and didn't mean for it to become public.

He's also concerned about violence breaking out between them and counter-protesters, which he says almost happened at the second march, when protesters arrived to find volunteers guarding the controversial Emma Sansom Confederate monument in front of Gadsden City Hall.

Horton says he wants to keep everyone safe protesting on all sides.

The sheriff's office has assisted Gadsden Police on all the marches, and even though it cost the sheriff's office $20,000 in overtime, he says money won't stop him from providing security.

“And if I can prevent a conflict such as that, I feel that’s my job as well. It’s not about overtime money, because truly you can’t put a price tag on safety. We would easily borrow money if we had to, to provide safety,” Horton said.

Horton inquired whether Gadsden had a law requiring permits for marches like that, and says he’s seen marchers walk into the street.

Gadsden City Council Member Thomas Worthy said this week marchers don’t need a permit as long as they stay on the sidewalks and crosswalks.

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