Group protests Florence City Council meeting restrictions

Protesters want Florence City Council restrictions changed

FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - Protesters stood outside this week’s Florence City Council meeting with a two-pronged complaint aimed at the council’s policy restricting the public from being at the meeting, and the potential reappointment of a historical board member.

According to our news partners at the Times Daily, the six people held signs asking to be allowed inside the Tuesday evening meeting. It was a protest against the council’s COVID-19 policy that only allows a member of the public inside while the person is addressing an issue on the agenda.

“The more we’re rebuffed, the more we’re staying,” William Lowe said. “They’re violating our constitutional rights by not allowing us into the meeting. They’ve co-opted the COVID declaration to try to keep us out of here.”

Council President Dick Jordan said Wednesday he is considering easing up on the meeting policies.

He said they are awaiting word from Gov. Key Ivey on what steps to take regarding the pandemic.

“I’d like to open it back up as quickly as possible,” Jordan said. “We need to look at that as soon as the city opens back up, and go ahead and open up our meetings, too. We’re just trying protect the employees and the general public by having it closed.”

He said the city might change the policy to allow people who are discussing an item on the agenda to stay throughout the meeting, while still observing mask and social distancing requirements.

Jordan said the meetings are live on Facebook, and anyone with concerns can call or email a council member.

David Carson said they also oppose reappointing Brian Murphy, who is the curator at Pope’s Tavern Museum and the Florence Indian Mound and Museum, to the city’s historical board.

Murphy has completed his first three-year term, and the council is considering whether to reappoint him.

Carson said he is upset because Murphy is a “Black Lives Matter activist” who has been part of Project Say Something’s efforts to move the Confederate monument from the front of the Lauderdale County Courthouse to the Soldier’s Rest in Florence City Cemetery.

He said he also dislikes the fact that Murphy came here from the state of New York.

“I don’t want far-left activists in charge of history programs in northwest Alabama,” Carson said.

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