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Sheila Tyson to Galleria Mall protesters: organize; remain peaceful

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Times Staff Report

Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson said comments about her calling for a boycott at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover were incorrect.

Tyson said several media outlets – including The Birmingham Times – incorrectly reported the context of her comments when she spoke during a prayer vigil Tuesday night for 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald “E.J.” Bradford Jr., who was shot and killed by Hoover Police on Thanksgiving night.

The Times reported that Tyson “urged” a boycott of the Galleria where Bradford was killed and where protests have been held since the shooting. The commissioner, who is also a representative of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN), said she did not urge a boycott of the Galleria, but told protesters that their marches should be organized and peaceful.

During the prayer vigil at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham, in a message to protesters, Tyson said, “You ain’t fixin’ to boycott the Galleria. Stop lyin’. Cause you ain’t going to do it. As soon as they put them Jordans on sale for $25 you gonna be wrapped around that building. So don’t start with me about boycotting nothing.”

Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson (at podium) speaks during prayer vigil for 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald “E.J.” Bradford Jr., who was shot and killed by Hoover police. (Ameera Steward Photo, The Birmingham Times)

In an interview, Tyson said she had been working diligently to encourage protesters to make their marches organized and to remain peaceful. And, she urged them to not march on the Hoover schools or on property owned by elected officials, she said.

“This is no way to handle the situation,” said Tyson, who added protesters need to learn from history.

“They need to organize,” she said. “They are supposed to have a peaceful expression. It took years of the civil rights movement coming together. They didn’t just jump up and do that with the [Montgomery bus boycott].”