Local activist to provide voters with free shuttle service

By Monique Jones

The Birmingham Times

A voter walks by a "vote here" sign after he cast his ballot in Alabama's primary at a polling site, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
A voter walks by a “vote here” sign after he cast his ballot in Alabama’s primary at a polling site, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Local Black Lives Matter activist Mercutio Southall is offering rides to the polls Tuesday through a free shuttle service. The service will start at 8 a.m. and run until polls close. Polling stations throughout the greater Birmingham metropolitan area and neighboring cities such as Bessemer, Brighton and Fairfield will be part of the service’s routes.

Concern about voter intimidation is at the heart of Southall’s shuttle service. “We were aware of voter intimidation happening in other places,” he said. “We were aware of increased Klan activity in this area and recent things that have happened in this state as far as changing the voting rights laws and things of that nature. I was getting a lot of calls from people wanting to know the gun laws as it pertains to the polling sites and people [were] concerned with [intimidation].” Southall said he and his group of volunteers created the service to make sure voters could feel safe and “confident in their ability to vote for whichever candidate they choose to vote for.”

“With everything that’s been coming out, I don’t want our people…to feel intimidated out of using their right that people fought for,” he said. Referencing Birmingham’s historic past, Southall said he and others want to keep the tradition of civil rights leadership alive. “We just want to make sure we keep up with that tradition,” he said. “We need to continue to be leaders. If something’s going on, we’re not going to let that happen here. We’re going to continue to be leaders and make sure we do everything that we can to keep it from happening.”

Voters with questions about the service can call Southall at 205-623-9091or email  bhamfreedomride2016@gmail.com