Camera system discussion leads to removal of local activist from city council meeting

Published 2:18 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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Tuesday’s Selma City Council meeting became heated after local attorney and activist Faya Rose Toure began shouting during the meeting, which ultimately led to her being escorted out of council chambers by the Selma Police Department. Toure had not requested to be on the agenda per council’s guidelines, but was given permission to address the council for five minutes, which is the citizen’s request time limit, as there were no objections from council members allowing her to speak.

During her address to the council, Toure urged city council members to work with Selma Mayor James Perkins, Jr. better, which she said would result in people outside Selma having a better impression of the city and its people. She also expressed her concerns about recent murders in Selma, including that of a young child.

When her five minutes concluded, Selma City Councilman Clay Carmichael, who was presiding over the meeting as council president pro-tem in the absence of Council President Billy Young, asked Toure to conclude her remarks and also not speak about city budget issues due to the council being in an active lawsuit with Perkins over the council’s recent approval of a fiscal year 2023 budget. Toure responded to Carmichael before concluding her remarks saying “Until you get rid of that racist attitude and work with our people and do right by our people Selma will never change.”

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Later in the meeting while Selma Chief of Police Kenta Fulford was addressing the council on the recent murders in Selma, Councilman Michael Johnson asked whether surveillance cameras would help curb crime in the city, which Fulford agreed with. Johnson then made a motion to approve a camera system from Alabama Power Company, which the council had debated in prior meetings, with the majority of the council approving in 2021 to go with a different camera system manufactured by SkyCop. The cameras were never purchased, as Perkins effectively vetoed the legislation by not signing off on it.

Johnson’s motion failed to pass with four councilpersons voting in favor, and four against.

Council members Michael Johnson, Atkin Jemison, Sam Randolph, and Lesia James voted yes, with council members Clay Carmichael, Jannie Thomas, Troy Harvill, Christie Thomas voting no.

As Thomas sought to clarify her vote, Toure spoke loudly from her seat in council chambers urging Thomas to vote yes, which would have ratified the Alabama Power camera system.

Carmichael asked Toure to calm down, eventually asking Fulford to have her removed from the meeting due to her continued interruptions.

As Toure was being escorted from Council Chambers, she screamed at Jannie Thomas and the rest of the city council.

“How could you do this, Jannie,” Toure yelled. “You should be ashamed of yourselves. The Selma City Council letting white supremacy rule.”

Afterward, Thomas explained her reason for voting no.

“I want to do what’s right until we get more information from our city attorney, Major Madison,” Thomas said.

In other action, the council approved emergency repair expenses to fix a sewage issue in the Inglewood Drive area in Selma that were brought to the council for approval by Public Works Manager Henry Hicks. Hicks also informed the council of six street “cave ins” that were going to need repair in the future. He also updated the council on many other infrastructure needs in the city that relate to the city’s outdated and underrated drainage system. They also heard the city’s financial report and at the end of the meeting approved a motion to extend a hiring freeze for city employees, with the exception of CDL drivers, until April 12, at which time the budget amendment will be addressed cooperatively between Perkins and the council.