Protesters Interrupt Alabama Governor’s Inauguration

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Community members join group Birthplace For Justice in singing “We Shall Overcome”

Montgomery, AL — A group of citizens from Selma, Montgomery, and other cities and towns from around the state of Alabama interrupted Governor Robert Bentley’s inauguration address to sing “We Shall Overcome” and chant ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬. The protest was organized by the Montgomery group Birthplace For Justice.Black Lives Matter image

“In Montgomery, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, we’ve been far too quiet in seeking justice in our communities and in this country,” said Michael Eric Grant, a spokesman for the group.

Alabama.com, after describing a baber-b-que, lengthy morning parade, NASA display and football trophies of the University of Alabama and Auburn University, wrote of the protest:

The proceedings went off without a hitch, except for the very beginning of Bentley’s speech.

A small group of protesters affiliated with Birthplace for Justice interrupted the beginning of Bentley’s speech, although they were hundreds of feet from Bentley, on ground just off Dexter Avenue.

The group sang “We Shall Overcome,” chanted “black lives matter,” and then turned their back on Bentley as he spoke.

A person associated with the group said protesters were upset the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade was cancelled in favor of the inauguration parade.

“We protested today because in addition to it being the inauguration, it’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” said member Michael Eric Grant in a statement. “We’re fighting to keep his dream of unity and justice alive. We hope that Gov. Bentley will carry out his oath to office with a similar commitment.”

But the inauguration speeches carried heavy mention of King, whose first church duties took place on Dexter Avenue in the 1950s.

Bentley’s finance director mentioned King in remarks before officeholders were sworn in.

“We protested today because in addition to it being the inauguration, it’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We’re fighting to keep his dream of unity and justice alive. We hope that Governor Bentley will carry out his oath to office with a similar commitment.”

“The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy of brotherhood, the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice.” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March, 1965.

Below are photos of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday rally held by Birthplace of Justice. More photos are available at the website of the Montgomery Advertiser.

Mark Bowen, left, member of the Birthplace for Justice group, throws his hands in the air while dancing to Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday" during a commemoration rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday held by the Montgomery group Birthplace for Justice in front of the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015.during a commemoration rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday held by the Montgomery group Birthplace of Justice in front of the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015.  , Albert Cesare / Advertiser

Mark Bowen, left, member of the Birthplace for Justice group, throws his hands in the air while dancing to Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” during a commemoration rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday held by the Montgomery group Birthplace for Justice in front of the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015.during a commemoration rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday held by the Montgomery group Birthplace of Justice in front of the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. , Albert Cesare / Advertiser

Members of Birthplace for Justice civil rights group hold hands during a commemoration rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday held by the Montgomery group Birthplace for Justice in front of the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015.  , Albert Cesare / Advertiser

Members of Birthplace for Justice civil rights group hold hands during a commemoration rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday held by the Montgomery group Birthplace for Justice in front of the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. , Albert Cesare / Advertiser

Members for Birthplace of Justice serve cake during a commemoration rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday held by the Montgomery group Birthplace for Justice in front of the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015.  , Albert Cesare / Advertiser

Members for Birthplace of Justice serve cake during a commemoration rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday held by the Montgomery group Birthplace for Justice in front of the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. , Albert Cesare / Advertiser

From left, Beth Anne Dunagan, Mark Bowen and Nailah Nicola talk during a commemoration rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday held by the Montgomery group Birthplace for Justice in front of the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015.  , Albert Cesare / Advertiser

From left, Beth Anne Dunagan, Mark Bowen and Nailah Nicola talk during a commemoration rally for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday held by the Montgomery group Birthplace for Justice in front of the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. , Albert Cesare / Advertiser