2018 Hoover police shooting protests
The 2018 Hoover police shooting protests are a series of organized public demonstrations and boycotts held in protesting the fatal shooting of E. J. Bradford Jr by Hoover Police officers inside the Riverchase Galleria on November 22, 2018; and the response to that shooting by police, city, county and state officials.
Bradford's death at the hands of police took place in the immediate aftermath of a shooting inside the crowded mall during early "Black Friday" sales on Thanksgiving night. That first incident began as a dispute between Erron Brown and Brian Wilson that flared up when they encountered each other at the mall. Friends of Brown's who were at the scene said that Wilson physically assaulted Brown, who then shot him in the abdomen. A 12-year-old girl in the vicinity was also injured by gunfire.
As Wilson collapsed onto the mall's upper level walkway outside the Foot Action store, E. J. Bradford, a classmate of Brown's who was planning to join up with them, pulled his own handgun from his waistband and moved toward the scene as Brown fled with two friends through JC Penney to their car. Two Hoover Police officers reacting to the initial gunshots spotted Bradford holding his gun and, believing him to have been the shooter and to be an imminent threat to public safety, shot him in the back.
With the threat evidently neutralized, police announced that they had shot the suspect. Chief Nick Derzis stated that, "Thank God we had our officers very close. They heard the gunfire, they engaged the subject, And they took out the threat."
By Saturday, November 24 investigators made public that Bradford's gun had not been fired. Protests began that night, and were fueled by ongoing refusals to release surveillance and police body-cam footage or any other evidence that would shed light on whether the officers' actions were justifiable. Over the next few weeks, protests continued virtually every evening in support of a general boycott of Hoover-based businesses during the Christmas shopping season.
On Saturday November 24 around 200 people, including members of Bradford's family and affiliates of "Justice League." "Black Lives Matter" and the "Outcast Voters League", joined a protest of the police shooting and official response. The group convened outside of the Galleria's Macy's store and then proceeded to parade through the mall chanting and holding placards. Many mall tenants closed their entrances during the protest.
Other demonstrations were held at Kelly Ingram Park on Sunday November 25, and outside of the Hoover Public Safety Center on Monday, November 26. The evening protest included a march down U.S. Highway 31 to the Galleria and back, blocking traffic.
A number of protesters attended the specially-called Hoover City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 27. The council moved to go into executive session to discuss "pending or threatening litigation". The council's decision not to hear from or address the public was criticized by the protesters, and activist Carlos Chaverst Jr pledged that, "If we have to shut down the entire city of Hoover, we will do that."
Derzis apologized personally to Bradford's family for the erroneous statements at a meeting on November 27.
The city indefinitely postponed its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, scheduled for November 29 at the Municipal Center.
Later the same evening a group of about 35 protesters gathered outside the Mayor Brocato's home and marched around the block. Le'Darius Hilliard and Chaverst of the Outcast Voters League led calls for accountability for Bradford's death.
On Friday, November 30 a group of about 85 protesters staged a "die-in" and wreath-laying near the site of the shooting on the mall's upper level, followed by a candlelight vigil outside the building, and a march around the mall that culminated with chants of "Stop shopping here," and "Not one more dime," inside the newly-opened Dave & Buster's.
On Sunday, December 2 Chaverst led a group of about two dozen protesters outside the AMC Patton Creek cinema. He berated the group of Hoover Police officers stationed outside the theater, which stopped selling tickets for the rest of the evening.
On Monday evening, December 3, around 70 protesters attended a Hoover City Council meeting, which was cut short after chants broke out during the public comment period. Afterward Outcast Voters League activist Le'Darius Hilliard outlined his group's demands for the resignations of Brocato, Derzis and police captain Gregg Rector as well as a new departmental policy on racial bias and the creation of a citizens' review board with subpoena powers. The protests continued at Sam's Club, where the activists used shopping carts to block the entrances, and then inside the Galleria, where several stores closed their entrances.
On Tuesday December 4 a group of around 100 protesters marched through Wal-Mart. Police closed the entrances and workers escorted customers out individually. The group later marched through the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. After leaving the area, the group's motorcade was escorted down U.S. Highway 150 and I-459 to I-65 north by police who blocked other highway exits. Upon reaching the I-65 onramp, a few of the cars stopped and demonstrators stood in the roadway, blocking traffic. The rest of the caravan was kept on the highway to beyond Lakeshore Drive. Hoover Police kept all entrances to I-459 in Hoover closed until the groups were dispersed.
Two weeks after the shooting, Hoover City Manager Allan Rice discussed the city's approach to protesters, touting the lack of violence or property damage, and encouraging residents not to be overly concerned: "People may [not] like some of the behavior they see or the things they hear, but that’s a different situation than public safety. They might be offended, but they’re not unsafe."
On Thursday December 6 a group of around 60 protesters blocked the driveway and entered the Ross Bridge Resort chanting, "Say his name, E. J.". Two security guards claimed to have suffered injuries while attempting to prevent protesters from entering the lobby and stairwell. A fire alarm was pulled during the action, which lasted about 10 minutes. Hoover police blockaded part of Alabama State Highway 150 afterward, and the group demonstrated outside the Hoover YMCA for another 15-20 minutes before dispersing. Protester Elijah King, who was driving Chaverst, was ticketed by Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputies for stopping on the highway. On the same day Anne Diprizio was arrested on U.S. Highway 31 outside the Hoover Municipal Complex for disorderly conduct. She was reportedly seen standing in traffic and throwing Christmas ornaments at cars, saying she was, "going to stop traffic until there was justice for E. J."
On Sunday December 9 Mark Myles and Andy Baer were arrested at the Galleria on misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges stemming from the events on I-459 the previous Tuesday night. Myles was not protesting at the time of his arrest inside the mall, but, according to Chaverst, was "scoping out" the building. Myles was arrested again the next day when Mountain Brook Police pulled him over for an unspecified traffic violation and found marijuana in his vehicle.
Baer, a UAB professor in the History Department who lectures on 20th century policing and race, was pulled over on Galleria Circle. Another activist, Sherrette Spicer, Mark Myles' sister and local chair of the New Black Panther Party was arrested by Mountain Brook Police on an outstanding disorderly conduct warrant from the December 6 highway standoff. She was arrested when she went to claim her car, which Myles had been driving.
Chaverst was arrested on the evening of Tuesday, December 11 at the start of a protest outside the Hoover Public Safety Center. He was charged with three counts of disorderly conduct and one count of "loitering with a mask", because he had been wearing a bandana over his face. Another protester, Martez Lamar Parker, was arrested on the same loitering charge during a protest at The Grove shopping center on Wednesday, December 12. Some businesses asked protesters to leave and some locked their doors, while others allowed the protesters to enter.
On Monday December 17 Justice League adviser Iva Williams III met with Mayor Brocato, city manager Rice and an intermediary. Reassured by the city officials' pledges to make substantive efforts to address the protesters' concerns, Williams recommended that the group temporarily suspend daily public demonstrations in Hoover pending further talks. The group continued to boycott Hoover-based businesses and outlined plans to put pressure on the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Attorney General Steve Marshall to release the bodycam footage.
In a press conference on Wednesday December 19 Williams and Chaverst outlined the conditions they expected Hoover to meet in order to prevent a resumption of public protests. Those included the creation of a citizen review board and a diversity officer to enhance oversight of the Hoover Police Department's policies, procedures and conduct; clemency for protesters charged with disorderly conduct and protection of the freedom to assemble; organizing an annual diversity summit for the city; and supporting the fair investigation of the police-involved shooting. Chaverst set a deadline of Friday December 21 for Hoover to agree to their demands. The city issued no statements.
On Saturday December 22 a group called "Women of the Movement" silently dropped banners from the Galleria's upper level above the food court reading "E. J. Was Murdered Here HPD$$" and "#HooverWrong People/Profit$ Bloody Friday". Black Lives Matter Birmingham Chapter director Cara McClure was arrested for trespassing. UAB African American Studies adjunct professor Martez Files confronted police challenging her arrest and was charged with disorderly conduct.
Chaverst organized a "silent protest" in the mall for the evening Sunday December 23. He was presented with a trespass warning that mall owners had signed the previous week and told he would be arrested if he returned to the property before December 15, 2019.
After Attorney General Steve Marshall released his department's report concluding that the officer acted "reasonably" in killing Bradford, a new wave of protests began. To chants of "No justice; no peace!," Chaverst spray-painted the phrase "Black Lives Don't Matter" on two American flags, and then set them on fire during a protest outside the Hoover City Hall that evening. The injustice of Bradford's death was also recognized during a vigil at Kelly Ingram Park in observance of what would have been Trayvon Martin's 24th birthday. The protests moved to Marshall's office the next day.
Prosecution of protesters
The seven demonstrators arrested by Hoover police on various misdemeanor charges relating to their protest actions chose to be represented as a group by attorney Richard Rice and to exercise their right to a jury trial in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
- Hrynkiw, Ivana (November 24, 2018) "Protesters call for boycott after Alabama mall shooting, demand release of body cam footage." The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (November 26, 2018) "Riverchase Galleria shooting: Protesters shut down highway, march to mall." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (November 29, 2018) "‘We will shut down Hoover if we have to,’ Alabama mall shooting protest organizer says." The Birmingham News
- Koplowitz, Howard (December 1, 2018) "Protesters stage die-in at spot in Hoover mall where E.J. Bradford was killed by police." The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (December 2, 2018) "Hoover mall shooting: protest at theater ends ticket sales for the night." The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (December 3, 2018) "Hoover mall shooting: Protests continue at Hoover city council meeting, Sam’s Club." The Birmingham News
- Stewart, Sherrel (December 3, 2018) "Protests Following Police Shooting Reveal Divide in the Black Community." WBHM.org
- Robinson, Carol (December 5, 2018) "Hoover mall shooting protesters shut down I-459." The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (December 7, 2018) "Hoover mall shooting: Protests continue to Ross Bridge, Hoover YMCA." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (December 7, 2018) "2 Ross Bridge security guards hurt during Hoover mall shooting protests; criminal charges possible." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (December 9, 2018) "Hoover police arrest protester at Riverchase Galleria over last week’s Interstate 459 shut down." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (December 10, 2018) "UAB professor arrested near Riverchase Galleria over I-459 shut down." The Birmingham News
- Dunigan, Jonece Starr (December 11, 2018) "Alabama activists host protest training after Galleria shooting." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (December 11, 2018) "3rd protester arrested over last week’s Interstate 459 shut down." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (December 11, 2018) "Protest leader Carlos Chaverst Jr. arrested on 4 warrants during demonstration outside Hoover jail." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (December 13, 2018) "6th person arrested as latest Galleria shooting protest reaches Target." The Birmingham News
- Anderson, Jon (December 18, 2018) "Protesters call for temporary halt to protests over Hoover police shooting." Hoover Sun
- Robinson, Carol (December 19, 2018) "Mall shooting protests could resume, expand if demands not met, organizers say." The Birmingham News
- Dunigan, Jonece Starr (December 22, 2018) "2 activists arrested following banner drop at Hoover mall." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (December 24, 2018) "Protest organizer Carlos Chaverst Jr. banned from Riverchase Galleria for one year." The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (February 5, 2019) "Protesters burn American flags after police officer cleared in EJ Bradford’s death." The Birmingham News
- Cason, Mike (February 6, 2019) "Protests over ‘EJ’ Bradford shooting move to Alabama AG’s office; 2 arrested." The Birmingham News
- Koplowitz, Howard (July 10, 2019) "Galleria shooting protesters arrested by Hoover police opt for Jeffco jury trial." The Birmingham News