Court observers share views on rezoning testimony - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Court observers share views on rezoning testimony

An 'overflow room' was designated for the many community members who wanted to view Thursday's testimony. An 'overflow room' was designated for the many community members who wanted to view Thursday's testimony.

The number of people who wanted to see Thursday's rezoning hearing between Huntsville City Schools and the Department of Justice was so large that the courtroom quickly filled to capacity.

An "overflow room" handled a great many more people who were able to keep tabs on the proceedings. Some have children who will be immediately impacted by the results of the hearings, which continue Friday. Others have children that are now grown, but still remain concerned about their community and the changes that take place within it.

"It's helpful," said Huntsville resident India Scruggs. "Everything is being shared in there."

"It's probably a landmark decision, as far as we're concerned," said Michael Jennings, who has grown kids that once attended Johnson High School. "DOJ lawyers are doing a very good job as far as bringing out the discrepancies in the schools and how the resources are applied."

Still other members in the gallery came just for the interest in the eventual decision's impact on history.

"I'm a historian, interested in the civil rights movement in Alabama," said Jane Deneefe. "I've been interested in this court case all along. I started at Rolling Hills the first year of integration, saw the white flight out of the northwest (and) a lot of the changes that have happened over the years."

Reggie Hill is a former school system employee who said he was terminated for being "too vocal." He is running an independent campaign for Congress; he said he believes the judge knows what she is doing in this case.

"I think we're going to see some great things as a result of this," said Hill. "I believe the judge is on to everything that has been prepared from both sides. This is something that I have to be a part of."

Deneefe felt there could be room for an amicable decision, although which plan becomes the plan for Huntsville will ultimately be decided by the judge..

"If I was to choose, I would support the Department of Justice's plan," Deneefe said. "But I do think there's room for both. I think there's room for compromise between the plans."

With at least one more day of testimony ahead of them, observers said they plan to stick around to see which way the wind might blow.

"We'll be back tomorrow to see what happens," said Jennings.

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