Demonstrators who wrote “Black Lives Matter” and “Expand Medicaid” on the street in front of the Alabama Capitol building during a protest on Thursday (July 16) have reportedly been arrested.
The painting occurred during a news conference and demonstration held by the Alabama SaveOurselves (SOS) Movement for Justice and Democracy. The group holds news conferences regularly to advocate for the expansion of Medicaid in the state.
According to Montgomery police on Friday, former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford, 77, along with 45-year-old Karen Jones, were charged with one count of defacing public property, which is a misdemeanor. Authorities later said three additional people would be charged with the same crime.
“I want to thank the Montgomery Police Department for handling the situation in a professional manner on yesterday,” Ford said. “No one placed a knee on our neck nor did they shoot us in the back. Instead, they talked to us directly and we knew that an arrest was coming.”
He continued, “Actually, an arrest does nothing but support our movement and our movement and our goal is to have Medicaid expanded in the state of Alabama. And also to let the world know that we do support the fact that ‘Black Lives Matter.‘”
According to AL.com, the protest began with a mock funeral service with people lying down in-front of the Capitol building in honor of those who have either died without receiving medical care or have been killed by police violence.
“We are living in a state where people are dying because we have a governor who will not expand Medicaid,” organizer Faya Rose Toure said at the event. “We live in a state where people are dying from police shootings.”
Ford said his attorney, who is his son Christopher Ford, is expected to go to the Montgomery Police Department and sign a bond. Ford served a total of 32 years as Tuskegee’s mayor, ending his leadership in 2016.
According to the Montgomery Advertiser, police were shown near the people doing the painting but it did not appear anyone was arrested.
Jones, a community advocate in Montgomery, said in a Friday afternoon press release: “Saving lives sometimes requires us to sacrifice our freedom and sometimes even our lives. We have been sacrificing our time, energy, financial resources and more to move Alabama to save lives. But Alabama has not moved. We have had body bags. We have had caravans. We have prayed prayers. We have had marches. We have had die ins. But Alabama has not moved. Alabama must move to save lives.”
(Photo credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)