Beyond the institutional racism that allegedly drove Balch & Bingham paid goons and stooges to target poor African-American families in North Birmingham, the mere mention about the continued toxicity and pollution in the community brings absolute, knee-jerk denials from powerful entities inside and outside the community.
Screaming “government overreach” or hollering “we are complying with state regulations” does not work when people are dying and getting sick in a known contaminated area.
On Saturday, October 3, environmental groups GASP and PANIC set up a small memorial to remember North Birmingham residents in Harriman Park, Fairmont, and Collegeville who have died due to contamination and pollution in North Birmingham.
The memorial included a stone, a cross, a floral rosary, and signs.
Five days later, the memorial was desecrated, removed, stolen, hauled away–including the stone.
“Whoever desecrated our memorial is a sick individual,” declared Keisha Brown, a long time activist in North Birmingham.
She added, “This was cold hearted. We were remembering ancestors and loved ones who have died. Many in my community, which I call family, have died of cancer–brain cancer, lung cancer, every cancer imaginable–and respiratory illnesses tied to local pollution. We are suffering from air and soil contamination including from the recent addition of a cement plant in our neighborhood. The black smoke, white dust, and intolerable smells are a daily reality. Our memorial did not point fingers. We were only remembering the dead. This act of desecration is pitiful.”
But are we surprised by this embarrassing act of sheer stupidity?
In the past, Balch & Bingham, Alabama Power and their affiliated entities, appear to have attempted to silence or intimidate their critics by using the overwhelming and unchecked financial and political power at their command.
But those days are gone.
Balch & Bingham and Alabama Power CEO Mark A. Crosswhite are no longer respected or feared. They are viewed, rightly or wrongly, as not-so-bright bullies who have overstepped their boundaries.
Bullies, like those who desecrated the memorial for the dead in Harriman Park, terrorized the wrong family during a fake protest, or tried to harm or kill Burt Newsome, demonstrate the “pitiful” conduct of entities that are truly out of control, unhinged, and embittered.
Out of control. Unhinged. Embittered.
Indeed, we say, indeed.