Alabama Power Foundation grant makes ‘virtual learning’ a reality for rural Greene County students

Greene County students work on computers at school before COVID-19 forced the shift to home learning. Many students didn’t have home internet access, but a grant from the Alabama Power Foundation supplied Chrome books and hot spots the students will be able to use at home.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Alabama schools to close their traditional classrooms in March, Corey Jones said it hit his students in rural Greene County doubly hard.
“We’re one of the poorest school districts in the state, and most of our students don’t have computers or access to the internet,” said Jones, Greene County School System superintendent. “We had to print out instructional packets and use buses to deliver them to students. Having to rely solely on printed materials put them at a significant educational disadvantage.”
Jones said because most parents in his school district are still concerned about sending their children back to the classroom in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, remote learning will continue during summer school and most likely through the fall semester. But thanks to the Alabama Power Foundation, Greene County students will soon have the technology they need to navigate their new virtual classroom.
The foundation provided a grant to the Greene County School System to help pay for Chrome books for 600 students in grades K-12. The funds will help purchase hot spots for students living in the most rural areas where broadband is unavailable. This technology will be used by students at Eutaw Primary, Robert Brown Middle and Greene County High schools.
“The pandemic has created many challenges for education in our communities – especially in rural areas,” said Alabama Power Western Division Vice President Mark Crews. “This grant will help Greene County schools overcome barriers such as access to the internet and computers as they prepare for distance learning. We’re proud to be a partner to our schools and thankful that the Alabama Power Foundation’s grant will be utilized in such an important way.”
Jones said the grant will be a real “game changer” for his students.
“It has been a godsend to have the Alabama Power Foundation partner with us,” Jones said. “The grant will allow us to provide resources to our students during this critical time so they can continue instructional learning and receive educational opportunities. Now every student will have access to devices and the internet, and will be able to use them anytime in the comfort of their home.”
Greene County School Board President Carol Zippert added her thanks and said the Alabama Power Foundation’s gift will make all the difference.
“We value our students and are deeply committed to providing the best educational services and opportunities for each one,” she said. “We also recognize that to accomplish our goals, we need partners who are sensitive to our student and community needs and aspirations, and are willing to reach out and share with us. Alabama Power Company is a longtime friend and supporter of the Greene County School System, and we take this opportunity to acknowledge the goodwill spirit of this relationship.”
Jones said some students will begin using their new Chrome books immediately during summer school.
Additionally, plans are to offer a summer learning program to help students catch up on the curriculum they may have missed from March through May. There will be an enrichment program to boost learning during the summer and support students who are struggling academically.
Jones said the Chrome books – fully loaded with all necessary programs and ready to use out of the box – have been ordered and are in route to students’ homes. The school system is working closely with internet providers to set up the permanent hot spots.
Jones believes that virtual learning is here to stay – even after the coronavirus is no longer a threat.
“We already know that students are affected by the ‘summer slide’ and lose much of what they have learned,” Jones said. “But with COVID-19, it will be worse this year because summer started in the middle of March, and students will have been away from school for a much longer time. Even after COVID-19 goes away, we will be using these devices to extend learning time to week nights, weekends and the summer.”

Newswire: Trump team attempts to block World Court from investigating possible U. S. war crimes

Ms. Fatou Bensouda, ICC Chief Prosecutor

June 15, 2020 (GIN) – A world court designed to investigate allegations of human rights violations has found itself in the crosshairs of the President of the United States.
A new Trump executive order threatening the court’s operations has been condemned by prominent global institutions and individuals as it appears to give cover to human rights abuses committed in the course of U.S. foreign wars while demanding accountability from foreign countries in similar circumstances.
The International Criminal Court (ICC), for example, has the power to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in north east Nigeria, and by so doing, offers the possibility of justice for Nigerians who suffered abuses by the military fighting Boko Haram in that region.
In March, the ICC ruled that it could also investigate allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan – including any committed by the U.S. – taking a step that outraged the Trump administration.
Param-Preet Singh of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, praised the decision of the ICC to greenlight an investigation of brutal crimes in Afghanistan, reaffirming the court’s essential role for victims when all other doors to justice are closed.
After years of collecting information on the Afghanistan war, the court’s chief prosecutor, Ms. Fatou Bensouda of The Gambia, said that enough information had been found to prove that U.S. forces “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence” in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, and later in clandestine C.I.A. facilities in Poland, Romania and Lithuania.
She requested permission to open an investigation into claims of war crimes and crimes against humanity attributed to the U.S. military and intelligence personnel, the Taliban and Afghan forces.
The United Nations’ mission in Afghanistan has documented the killings of more than 17,000 civilians by the Taliban since 2009, including nearly 7,000 targeted killings. Yet, last April, a U.N. report found that U.S. and Afghan forces had killed more civilians in the first three months of 2019 than the Taliban did..
Objections by the U.S. to being examined for serious crimes in Afghanistan began with John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, who denounced the court as “illegitimate.” He said: “We won’t cooperate with the I.C.C. We will provide no assistance to the I.C.C. And we certainly will not join the I.C.C. We will let the I.C.C. die on its own.” He added, “If the court comes after us, we will not sit quietly.”
Similar comments have been made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Shaharzad Akbar, the head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said the court had made the right decision to procede over U.S. objections. “We will advocate for victims regardless of the group affiliation of the perpetrator — whether U.S. actors, Taliban or Afghan forces,” Ms. Akbar said.
The ICC was established more than 15 years ago to seek justice for victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.17, 2020-

Newswire : NASCAR joins growing list of those taking stand against racial injustice

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace stands on pit row at Martinsville (Photo:

Since protestors and demonstrators have taken to the streets around the globe in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, many businesses and organizations have issued statements and taken measures to communicate their stand against racial injustice.
On Wednesday, June 10, NASCAR joined that ever-growing list with the announcement that it’s removing the Confederate flag from all of its events.
“The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR officials wrote in a statement.
“Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
Companies and organizations like the National Basketball Association, Goldman Sachs, Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, and Nike have also issued statements condemning racial injustice.
However, skeptics say it remains too early to tell if the growing list of businesses will support African American-owned businesses and the continued cry for racial equality.
“NASCAR isn’t a museum. It’s a sport. And on race day, it’s a sport that invests more time and pageantry honoring America than anyone,” writer Dan Wolken wrote in an Op-Ed for USA Today. “The people who insist the Confederate flag is an important part of that pageantry are not amplifying the values inherent to American sports. They’re mocking the long road to progress that has once again arrived at a defining, historic moment,”
While many took to social media to voice their surprise about NASCAR’s decision, one of the sport’s premier drivers and NASCAR’s lone Black competitor joined in to applaud the move.
“I’m just really proud of the efforts of NASCAR for stepping up and wanting to be a part of the change,” Bubba Wallace, who’s No. 43 Chevrolet car has the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag painted over the vehicle, told Good Morning America.
“I know it’s tough, they’re in a tough situation,” Wallace stated. “They’ve been in a tough situation for a long time now, but I think this is the most crucial time and time is of the essence right now in the world that we’re in and the nation that we’re in to create change and create unity and come together and really try to be more inclusive.”

Newswire : Senator Doug Jones urges President Trump to appoint Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board Members

Doug Jones

BIRMINGHAM – U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) today wrote to President Donald Trump, last week to urge him to appoint members to the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board. While Congress passed Senator Jones’ legislation to establish the board in 2018, and later appropriated $1 million requested by the Trump Administration to implement it, delays continue in the appointment of board members who would carry out the board’s work.
Senator Jones’ bipartisan legislation, the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018, required the review, declassification, and release of government records related to unsolved Civil Rights-era criminal cases. To do this work, it established a Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board and required that appointments to the board should be made within 60 days.
“When you signed the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018 on January 8, 2019, you helped this country take an important step towards finding truth and reconciliation for families and communities still struggling with the pain of unsolved civil rights crimes,” Senator Jones wrote. “As our country is once again grappling with important questions related to civil rights, I urge you to appoint the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board as expeditiously as possible and fulfill the promise of this important legislation.”
Senator Jones, who successfully prosecuted two of the former Klansmen responsible for the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, has long advocated for expanded public access to civil rights cold case records in an effort to uncover the truth. In 2007, he also testified to the House Judiciary Committee in support of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act that established a special initiative in the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate civil rights cold cases.

Newswire: Black Lives Matter protesters tear down statue of the U.K.’s leading slave trader

Statue of Edward Colson toppled in England and protestor throwing Colson statue in Bristol harbor

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today
Black Lives Matter protesters in the United Kingdom pulled the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th century slave trader, off its base in Bristol, England, and rolled it down the street before pushing it into the harbor to a watery grave to loud cheers, according to the BBC. The entire event was captured by photographers.
Protesters in Bristol, a city in South West England, used ropes to pull down the 18- foot tall bronze statue of Colston leaning on his walking stick.
The statue was dedicated in 1895, but for many city residents and others it had been a source of controversy because of his slave-trading past, although streets, buildings and bridges in Bristol are named after Colston who died in 1721. Before he died, he gave his wealth to charities.
Any association with his name is controversial by some. In February 2019, St. Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol announced that it would be renaming Colston House as Johnson House, after the American mathematician Katherine Johnson, a black woman, who plotted astronaut John Glenn’s successful February 20, 1962, orbit of the Earth.
Colston was an official of the Royal African Company and for a short time as Member of Parliament. In 1680, the company monopolized Britain’s slave trade, selling 80,000 to 100,000 black men, women, and children to businessmen in the Americas in exchange for tobacco, sugar and other goods.
Royal African Company employees branded captured slaves with the initials RAC, using a red-hot branding iron.
Bristol was a key port in the triangular slave trade. In the first side of the slavery triangle, manufactured goods were shipped to West Africa and exchanged for Africans. The enslaved captives were transported across the Atlantic to the Americas in the Middle Passage under brutal conditions.
The third side of the triangle, plantation goods such as sugar, tobacco, rum, rice, cotton, and a few slaves (sold to the aristocracy as house servants) returned across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom.
At the height of the Bristol slave trade from 1700 to 1807, more than 2,000 slave ships carried an estimated 500,000 people from Africa to slavery in the Americas.
After the Colston statute was torn from its base, a protester pressed his knee on Colston’s neck similar to the way former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to back of a handcuffed George Floyd’s neck as he lay face down on the ground, killing him.
The removal of Colston’s statute occurred during the second day of demonstrations in Manchester, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Glasgow, and Edinburgh over Floyd’s murder and in protest of police brutality and racial inequality.

Greene County Commission adopts resolutions on 4 mil property tax increase, Streetscape II Project and Sales Tax Holiday

On Monday, June 8, 2020, the Greene County Commission held its regular monthly meeting at the William M. Branch Courtroom, with social distancing and masks. All members of the Commission were present.
The Commission passed a resolution to authorize a procedure for a four (4) mil increase in property tax, which can be approved locally without Legislative approval, since the earlier proposal for a 5 mil increase did not receive legislative consideration in the shortened session.
The 4 mil proposal includes 2 mils for the Greene County Health System, 1 mil for the Commission General Fund and 1 mil to be divided between Parks and Recreation, Senior feeding programs, storm shelters and the Public Works Department for matching funds on state funded projects.
This 4 mil tax increase will still be subject to a county-wide referendum on the November 3, 2020 General Election ballot and must be approved by a majority of Greene County voters. One mil of ad valorem property tax currently generates about $165,000 in tax revenues. The 4 mil increase would generate $650,000 in new revenues to be split among the agencies, with half going to the health system for the hospital, nursing home, and physicians clinic.
The Commission approved a resolution to allow the Greene County Industrial Development Authority (GCIDA) to make an application for an $873,000 grant from the ALDOT for a Streetscape II grant to repair and replace the inside sidewalks around the Old Courthouse Square. The resolution also provides that the GCIDA will be responsible for raising the 20% matching funds if the grant is approved.
The City of Eutaw has received a grant of $640,000 for improvements to the outer sidewalk areas around the Old Courthouse Square and is currently working on the engineering details to do this work. Matching funds for this Streetscape I project were provided by the City of Eutaw, Greene County Commission and GCIDA.
Since the Greene County Commission owns the Old Courthouse Square, in the center of the county, it had to authorize the application of funds for the Streetscape II Project.
The Commission also approved a resolution to support the ‘2020 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday” on July 14-19, 2020.
Brenda Burke, County Administrator gave a financial report showing the county finances remain solvent and generally within budget for the eight months ending May 2020. The Commission approved payment of $ 484,149 in bills and claims including $283,558 for the General Fund.
Burke asked the Commission for directions and instructions on reopening the Courthouse for regular business after the Coronavirus closing. She indicated that the procedure was to allow a limited number of people into the Courthouse at any one time, to allow for social distancing. A staff person is needed to monitor the front door and allow people to enter in an orderly fashion. The Commission agreed to check with the Sheriff to see if a deputy could be assigned to help monitor the front door.
In other actions, the Greene County Commission:
• Agreed to consider a new contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) for health insurance coverage for employees
• Agreed to modify the county’s Rebuild America Plan to include pipes and riprap purchase for Flag Road
• Agreed to proposals from the County Engineer with regard to the 2020 ADECA Community Block Grant Program for $350,000 with a $35,000 matching requirement; and awarding of a contract for Program Administration to Grant Management LLC for these funds.
• Approved utilizing the Eutaw Activity Center for COVID-19 testing on June 16, 2020; and working with other agencies in the county to expand testing and spread testing sites to communities around the county.

SOS attempts citizens arrest of Gov. Ivey for failure to expand Medicaid; visits Montgomery schools named for Confederate officials to advocate end of symbols of white supremacy

SOS leaders stand at Pedestal for statue in front of Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery. The statue was toppled last week during protest. SOS is uring the School Board to change the name of the school.

Montgomery, AL – The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy held an Alabama State Capitol press conference, at noon on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, to conduct a symbolic citizens’ arrest of Gov. Kay Ivey for her continual refusal to expand Medicaid, which has caused the needless deaths of thousands of Alabamians as a direct result of her refusing to take action, which she can do with the stroke of a pen, to expand Medicaid.
The press conference was followed by a Caravan for Life to Montgomery’s Robert E. Lee High School and Jefferson Davis High School to draw attention to the murder of Blacks due to White supremacy and policy brutality and to focus attention on the ongoing need to remove Confederate monuments from public property. SOS said its activities are also in support of the memory of George Floyd and the need for immediate reforms in criminal justice reform throughout the State of Alabama, to prevent police brutality and murder of unarmed Black people. SOS leaders who spoke on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol building brought with them a warrant, handcuffs and a ball and chain to effectuate the arrest of the Governor. The State Capitol was locked and an extra barricade had been installed at the top of the steps to prevent the SOS leaders from presenting their warrant.
Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “We are thankful that Gov. Ivey has health insurance provided by the State of Alabama that helped ensure her recovery from lung cancer. We ask that the Governor afford the citizens of Alabama the same right to life she clings to so strongly. “Actions speak louder than words, Governor, and your continued actions and inactions during your time as Governor have led to the needless murders of thousands of Alabamians by your refusal to expand Medicaid and save lives. Which is it, Gov. Ivey? Are you pro-life or just pro-your-life? Expand Medicaid NOW, and save Alabama lives!”Chair of the Greene County Health Systems John Zippert said: “Rural hospitals save lives. They do everything they possibly can to save every possible life. Yet they have been dying at unconscionable rates due to Gov. Ivey’s failure to expand Medicaid. We are asking Gov. Ivey to do everything she can to help rural and other hospitals in Alabama survive by expanding Medicaid. That is why we are here today to again issue a symbolic citizens’ arrest warrant on Governor Ivey, which we also did on May 21, 2019 – more than a year ago – for her violation of 13A-5-40(10), Code of Alabama 1975.”
SOS Direct Action Committee Chair Faya Rose Toure said: “We, as citizens of Alabama, charge Governor Ivey with the intentional refusal to expand Medicaid and conspiracy with others to block Medicaid expansion, knowingly leading to the murder of thousands of Alabamians and the destruction of Alabama’s rural health care system. Too many Black Alabamians are being killed because the Governor has continually refused to expand Medicaid, which she can do with a stroke of her pen today.”
World Conference of Mayors Founder Johnny Ford said: “The Governor’s criminal failure to expand Medicaid is just one of many egregious actions taking place in Alabama that are leading to the senseless murder of Black human beings in our state. What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is not unique to Minnesota. Black people all over this country have been wrongfully murdered by police – both men and women – due to the systemic racism in the justice system and centuries of White supremacy in Alabama and America. This must end now. No more Blacks should die due to government actions that include failure to expand Medicaid and murder by police brutality.”
Youth Advocate Alecha Irby said: “The world watched in horror as the life drained out of George Floyd over eight minutes and 46 seconds. Tragically, all Black people including young Black people know we are at great risk of being murdered or enduring physical harm at the hands of the police. We have grown up surrounded by treasonous Confederate monuments that perpetuate and push and deadly culture of White supremacy all over this state and nation. It is long overdue for the monuments of treason to come down. They don’t belong on public property.”
Law Professor Emerita Martha Morgan said: “Being an attorney and an educator, I have seen the deadly and dangerous effects of White supremacy on our justice system, our educational systems, and our state and national culture. Monuments and other glorifications of treasonous confederate action in this nation should not be standing today on public ground. If they are truly to become part of our history, we must put them in places of history rather on public property or in honor of their actions in secession from and declaration of war upon the United States of America.”
Attorney and former State Senator Hank Sanders said: “The loss of Black lives has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, where Blacks are dying at a rate of three times that of Whites in Alabama and the U.S. We are having to fight for our lives on the lack of health care front, on the pandemic front, on the police brutality front, and on the White supremacy front. Death is coming at us from so many different directions. Change must happen now.”
SOS went by Caravan to the two high schools named for Confederate officials. At Robert E. Lee High School, SOS leaders stood for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in front of the empty pedestal where Lee’s statue had been toppled last week by youth leaders. At Jefferson Davis High School school security prevented the group from demonstrating on school grounds. A short ceremony was held on the sidewalk to urge the Montgomery School Board to change the names of the schools named for Confederates who fought against the United States.

Newswire : Snoop Dogg says he will vote for the first time ever

Rapper says he was brainwashed into believing that his criminal record prevented him from voting in elections
By Ny Magee -June 8, 2020

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg has confessed that his criminal record prevented him from voting in the past. But the Hip-Hop star intends to hit the polls for the first time ever come November.
During an appearance on Real 92.3’s Big Boy’s Neighborhood on Thursday, Snoop, who was convicted of a felony in 1990 and 2007, explained that for many years, he was “brainwashed” into thinking that “you couldn’t vote because you had a criminal record,” he said, PEOPLE reports.
“I didn’t know that. My record’s been expunged so now I can vote” the 48-year-old “Gin & Juice” rapper added.
“I ain’t never voted a day in my life, but this year I think I’m going to get out and vote because I can’t stand to see this punk in office one more year,” he said of President Donald Trump and the 2020 race for the White House.
Snoop said if he’s going to encourage his fans and social media followers to vote in the November election, then he better lead by example.
“We got to make a difference, I can’t talk about it and not be about it,” he explained. “I can’t tell you to do it and then not go do it. If I tell you to do something, I done it already.”
Elsewhere in the conversation with Big Boy, the West Coast rapper addressed the protests erupting across the nation over the police killing of George Floyd. He encouraged demonstrators to stay safe amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
While he continues to practice social distancing and staying home, Snoop said he will use his social media platforms to support the Black Lives Matter movement amid the civil unrest over race relations in this country.

Birmingham dismantles Confederate monument that stood for 115 years

Man stands at base of Confederate
Monument in Birmingham Linn Park

The base of a Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument in Alabama’s largest city was all that remained Tuesday morning after crews worked overnight to dismantle it. The monument was built by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1905.
Workers began Monday night, June 1, 2020, removing the top portion of the 56 foot tall obelisk in pieces in Birmingham’s Linn Park, about a day after protesters tried to remove it themselves during a protest over police brutality, including the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
During Sunday night’s demonstrations, the statue of George Linn, a Confederate naval commander and past mayor of Birmingham, for whom the downtown park was named, was also toppled. On Monday morning the damaged statue was lying on the ground near its former pedestal.
Live video filmed by and other Birmingham TV outlets overnight showed a flatbed truck hauling off the stone pieces in the early morning hours. It’s unclear where the pieces were being taken.
The monument had been the subject of a court battle between the city of Birmingham and the state before protesters tried to bring it down Sunday.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the city faces a fine for violating a state law that bans the removal of Confederate and other long-standing monuments. Woodfin said the cost of a fine would be more affordable than the cost of continued unrest in the city.
The Confederate memorial monument that has been the source of litigation and debate in downtown Birmingham for years was dismantled by the city on Monday night.
The removal of the monument followed Sunday night’s demonstrations, which included an effort to take down the monument. During the demonstration, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin appeared and told demonstrators the city would remove the monument on Monday.
City leaders, activists and others have called for the monument’s removal for years, but Alabama lawmakers passed a law aimed at protecting monuments like the one that has stood for more than a century in Linn Park.
The high-profile fight over the monument has been seen by many in the Birmingham business community as another barrier to progress and a stain on the city’s national perception as it seeks to combat stereotypes while recruiting talent and companies to the Magic City.
That law resulted in a lawsuit over the city’s prior installation of a covering to obscure view of the statue, triggering a $25,000 fine. But a court ruled the one-time $25,000 fine is the only punishment allowed for the violation of the law. Alabama lawmakers filed a bill earlier this year to allow tougher penalties, but the legislative session was disrupted by Covid-19 and the law did not pass.
On Monday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said if the city proceeded with the removal of the monument, he would perform the duties assigned to him in the act and pursue a new civil complaint against the city, which would trigger another $25,000 fine if successful.
By Tuesday morning, more than $50,000 had already been raised in Birmingham to cover the cost of the fines. Mayor Woodfin said he was looking for a museum or cemetery that would be interested in accepting the monument.
A demonstration on Monday night in Montgomery, Alabama led to the removal and damaging of a statue of General Robert E. Lee , which stood in front of the high school named for him in that city. The students at the school are now predominantly Black. Students and parents have been petitioning the school board for many years to change the name of the school.
Some of the persons involved in pulling down the Robert E. Lee statue were arrested and charged by city police.

SOS places body bags on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery to symbolize the disparate healthcare impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for Medicaid Expansion

As of June 3, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Alabama had 18,717 confirmed cases of
coronavirus, with 653 deaths
Greene County had 95 confirmed cases
with 4 deaths
Sumter County had 227 confirmed cases with 7 deaths
and Hale County had 182
cases with 9 deaths

Montgomery, AL – The Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy held an Alabama State Capitol Body Bag Memorial Caravan as well as a press conference on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol on Thursday, May 28, 2020. The caravan and press conference included body bags to symbolize and memorialize all the lives lost and the lives that will be lost in Alabama due to COVID-19 as well as additional deaths due to state leaders’ failure to take action to expand Medicaid.
SOS placed ten body bags to symbolize the over 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic. These body bags also represented the 700 or more people dying each year in Alabama from the failure to expand Medicaid and provide health care to 340,000 working poor people.
SOS Direct Action Committee Chair Faya Rose Toure said: “Alabama has been all over the national and state news for more than a week. This is because COVID-19 cases are spiking in our state, deaths are increasing and many hospitals are full. In Montgomery, a city with three major hospitals, people have been told to go to Birmingham for care due to the fact ICU beds have filled. These body bags we have with us today are symbolic of all of the unnecessary deaths taking place in this state. The tragic thing is there will be many more unnecessary deaths and many more body bags if action is not immediately taken.”
World Conference of Mayors Founder Johnny Ford said: “We are again calling on the federal government to do whatever is necessary to make sure that all the resources necessary for testing and tracing are available in Alabama and also to make sure they are directed to those most in need, whether they are on the front lines, whether they live in minority communities and more. The federal government must act forcefully right now. Too must time has already been wasted, and we cannot afford to waste another second while more body bags are filled with people who could and should still be alive.”
Community Advocate Karen Jones said: “We must all wear masks when we are out in public, and businesses should mandate that their employees and customers wear masks. Masks are not a political issue. They are a life and death issue. Masks are for everyone’s safety, so MASK UP ALABAMA for the health of everyone! These body bags on the steps of the Capitol represent the deaths of hundreds of people in Alabama because, as of today, there have been 583 deaths in our state attributed to the coronavirus, and doctors believe there are even more. There are also more than 16,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama. We do not want to see any more body bags filled with Alabama bodies. So mask up Alabama! Also while the expansion of Medicaid cannot stop the virus now, expanding Medicaid can reduce the number of deaths. We must stop every single death that we can. And we must expand Medicaid – for now and for the future!”
Dr. Joe Reed, Chair of the Alabama Democratic Conference, said: “If the State of Alabama does not want to take federal money to expand Medicaid then it should be consistent and refuse all the other federal money Alabama takes. Every year Alabama takes billions more in federal dollars than it gives to the United States. For every one dollar, Alabama and Alabamians pay in federal taxes, our state and its people get back $61.56 from the federal government. Alabama has always been a taker state. Alabama needs to be consistent and take the federal funds to expand Medicaid now and improve the health and save of the lives of the people of the state. Alabama can do it now it if it wants to do it.”
Chair of the Greene County Health Systems John Zippert said: “I have watched doctors from across the state tell heartbreaking stories of what they and their patients are personally facing in fighting COVID-19 in Alabama. And these have not been doctors at rural hospitals. I know firsthand the dire situation rural hospitals in Alabama deal with every day and have been dealing with long before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Governor Ivey has opened up large parts of Alabama, and, with that, Alabama pulmonologists, infections disease specialists and other doctors anticipate more patients contracting the virus, requiring hospitalization and dying from COVID-19 in our state. The danger has been real for a long time, but it is becoming even more dangerous now. If Alabama does not expand Medicaid, our leaders will be responsible for many more deaths and hospital closures that could be avoided.”
Rev. Kenneth Glasscow of the Ordinary Peoples Society in Dothan and SOS Justice Committee Co-chair stated,” We must be concerned about the special problems of people in our jails and prisons. The State of Alabama and local jurisdictions should be releasing non-violent and elderly inmates who are in danger of contracting and dying from the coronavirus because there is no way to practice social distancing in our jails and prisons. We must also condemn the State of Alabama for accepting more Federal funds for policing but not for Medicaid expansion to heal the sick and injured.”
Attorney and former state Senator Hank Sanders said: “In Alabama, we always find money to do what we want to do. We can find the money to expand Medicaid, even during this pandemic. We could have and should have done it years ago, but we must now do it during these times. And in doing so, we would also lift Alabama in so many ways – including tens of thousands of jobs, saved hospitals, healthier Alabamians and much more. Most importantly, we would have fewer deaths of Alabamians. We would save lives.”