GADSDEN, Ala. (WBRC) - A leader of the Black Lives Matter movement in Etowah County has been arrested on felony theft charges.
Gadsden police say they’ve charged 32-year-old Jerome Gunn with two counts of theft by deception after search warrants were served in several locations.
A statement from Black Lives Matter Etowah describes Gunn as a leader in that organization, and a leader in the area’s Black community even before that.
The statement says Gunn’s car wash on West Meighan Boulevard was one of the places searched. That car wash was the starting point for a recent march and a planned site Friday night for a kid-friendly activity night and charitable event.
A statement from Black Lives Matter Etowah Thursday said, "We will not let this stop or slow the work he has put in motion or give officials the satisfaction of slowing us down. We ask that all supporters of this movement use their words and refrain from violence. We have been a nonviolent group since our inception and will remain this way."
The statement quoted Gunn’s wife, Jasmine Gunn, as saying there were questions about the judge’s signature on the warrant. She is described as the owner of the business and is quoted in the statement as saying she wasn’t allowed inside during the search.
Gunn is being held on $5,000 bond in the Etowah County Detention Center. Etowah County District Court records in the case, including the search warrant, were unavailable Thursday evening.
Here is the full statement from the Gadsden Police Department, through public information officer William Johnson:
“On July 16, 2020 at around 1200hrs, Officers from the Gadsden Police Department executedsearch warrants on multiple locations. As part of this investigation, Jerome Reese Gunn was placed under arrest for the crime of Theft by Deception 1st. Mr. Gunn was transported to the Etowah County Jail and has a $5,000.00 bond. The search warrants and arrest are part of an active and ongoing investigation by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Gadsden Police Department. No further details can be provided at this time but will be released when available.”
Here is the full statement from Black Lives Matter Etowah, through spokesperson Mackenzie Clark:
“As of today, 7/16/20 at 11am, Gadsden city and county law enforcement searched property of and arrested Gadsden BLM leader Jerome Gunn for ‘Theft by Deception.’ At noon the same day, law enforcement proceeded to arrest Jerome as soon as he arrived to ask why they were searching his business. When wife and owner Jasmine Gunn asked for a search warrant, she was denied entry to her own business and told that the warrant was inside for her to see when they were done.”I asked what was going on and a police officer began interrogating me. When I again asked for warrants to search my property and arrest my husband, they responded by saying ‘I’m not playing with you’ and walking away.” When she was finally allowed to enter her property the”warrant” given by law enforcement had no judge’s name printed, the judge’s signature was a copy not original, and it was unclear as to what any of the charges were. The county posted charges and bail amount for $5,000 at 2pm in the afternoon, but the city is holding him pending charges. Leaders suspect they are using a common law enforcement tactic of stalling bail and charges for 72 hours to hold Jerome for longer than necessary.When asked for their thoughts, Gadsden leaders stated, “Jerome has been a leader and supporter of the Gadsden Black and POC community long before Black Lives Matter. We will not let this stop or slow the work he has put in motion or give officials the satisfaction of slowingus down. We ask that all supporters of this movement use their words and refrain from violence. We have been a nonviolent group since our inception and will remain this way.”