By Jemeana Roberson, Associate Publisher of Speakin’ Out News
(L-R) Terrence Adkins, co-founder of Standing in Power and a member of the American Descendants of Slavery Advocacy Foundation, and protest organizer and Terrence Baker, founder of the Strengthening the Integrity of Future Families (S.T.I.F.F.) organization and protest lead.
This past weekend, hundreds gathered in front of City Hall in Decatur, Alabama, to peacefully protest the tragic death of Steve Perkins, who was shot and killed by Decatur police officers in front of his home. Chants for justice and peace reverberated throughout downtown Decatur, and protestors displayed a variety of signs and posters with different messages.
Zoie Roberson, Assistant Chair of the Youth Caucus for the Madison County Democratic Party, born in Decatur and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, delivered an address on the importance of voting, advocating for protestors to channel their anger through the ballot box. Roberson said, “As there is power in the collective vote, there is power in the individual vote.” “Don’t wait for something to happen personally to you or your family and then be ready to vote… What happened to Steve is personal for all of us,” exclaimed Roberson. She emphasized that “there are people waiting for your anger to blow over. Well, I say, do not give them the satisfaction. Let your voice be heard through your vote.” In Roberson’s closing, she encouraged the crowd to send a message to some of the city leaders, saying, “Let’s send a message to those leaders who do not stand with us, who are not for us, and who do not care about the struggles in our community. If they want to play games, well, let the games begin because we’re coming for the ballots–our vote, our power.” The crowd erupted in cheers, shouting, “Vote them out!”
Will Woodruff, the second vice president of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, delivered a message on behalf of state conference president, Benard Simelton. Woodruff said, “The NAACP is calling for a change in the use of deadly force policies, and the Decatur police officers and all law enforcement officers in the state of Alabama go through the revised use of force school.” “There is no reason that 18 shots should have been fired. As a matter of fact, based on the evidence, it seems so far no shot should have been fired,” Woodruff added.
Among the protestors was Eric Hall, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Birmingham chapter. Hall pledged full support from the local and national Black Lives Matter networks to demand justice for Mr. Perkins and ensure the family’s demands are met. He stated, “We demand justice, and we stand in solidarity 100 percent, and we will be here until justice is served.”
Also present, Travis Jackson, representing the Black Lives Matter chapters for Montgomery and Birmingham, called for accountability for those involved in covering up incidents like the death of Steve Perkins. He stressed the need for state or federal intervention to bring justice to the family.
Additionally, Pastor Videau of the Victory Church of Hillsboro, Alabama, expressed his concern that progress on the issue had mainly come from churches, the community, legal teams, and protestors, with limited progress from the city. He noted that the city often attempts to remain quiet on such matters.
One of the protest organizers, Terrence Adkins, co-founder of Standing in Power and a member of the American Descendants of Slavery Advocacy Foundation, expressed frustration over the slow updates on the case. He urged Decatur City to be more transparent about the investigation process and provide a timeline for the community. Adkins also commented on the resignation of the chief of police, suggesting that “if he’s going to resign, he needs to take a lot of officers with
Regarding the progress on the issue, Terrence Baker, founder of the Strengthening the Integrity of Future Families organization, mentioned that while progress is being made in terms of community unity, he is dissatisfied with the pace of the case. However, he acknowledged some progress in the information being revealed by lawyers involved in the matter. “As far as the information that’s coming out from the lawyer and everything, I feel like there’s some progress,”said Baker.