Hoover, Ala. — “If we don’t get it, shut it down. If we don’t get it, shut it down,” protesters chanted outside the AMC theater in the Patton Creek Shopping Center last Sunday night. That’s across the street from the Riverchase Galleria.
The theater closed its doors to new patrons before the 7:00 p.m. movies were scheduled to start. Business for several movies were impacted.
Riverchase Galleria store manager: “We didn’t have anything to do with it.”
At the Riverchase Galleria, managers of some smaller stores say they’ve seen up to a 50 percent sales drop since the Thanksgiving night shooting. That's compared to sales figures from the same period last year.
Many stores closed their doors early when the protesters arrived.
“I understand they want to exercise their rights,” says one Galleria store manager who didn’t want to be identified. “But we didn’t have anything to do with it. We’re just families out here trying to make a living for our families. It’s just unfair how far they’re taking this.”
Earlier this week, protesters were inside the Walmart on Highway 150. They even shutdown a ramp on Interstate 459 for about 20 minutes.
What does the law say?
Alabama law defines disorderly conduct as intent to cause public inconvenience, making unreasonable noise, disturbing any lawful assembly of people and obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
“The Constitution protects peaceful protests. It does not protect protests that endanger public safety, block businesses, block roads, that sort of thing,” says Samford University law professor John Carroll.
Hoover: Protecting people and property are the two most important goals
Hoover city administrator Allan Rice says police work closely with businesses on how to deal with protesters. Protecting people and property are the two most important goals—and so far, they’ve been successful doing that.
“There’s a point in time when arrests need to occur. There are also points in time when arrests can be devastating to efforts to manage an event,” Rice says.
“I hate that it happened. But on the other hand, we’re still trying to make a living,” says the Galleria store manager.
Rice says the Hoover police chief has been in contact with other cities on how best to manage protests following officer-involved shootings.
So, they know what worked and didn’t work.
He says he feels comfortable with the way police are handling the protests.
“Sometimes strength is in restraint,” Rice says.