By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to keep open a Shell Gas Station on 3rd Ave. West in Smithfield where a 28-year-old was killed in June but not before hearing from residents who both wanted the establishment to remain open and to close.
Supporters hoping to keep open the gas station lined one wall
while family members of Antonio Taylor, the 28-year-old killed at the service station in June, lined the other wall asking the council to revoke the station’s business license.
Ultimately the Council voted 8-0 to keep the service station open provided that the owner follows the proposed security plan, which requires additional security on weekends from midnight to 5 a.m. and during special events such as the Magic City Classic.
Those in favor of keeping the gas station open included Anthony Jones, who lives in Ensley.
“They have security cameras … a lot of the stuff doesn’t happen at the gas station, it happens where (people are) coming from,” he said. “These incidents just end up at the gas station. They’d just find another gas station.”
Le’Darius Hilliard said his sister was also killed at a gas station in Ensley on July 4, 2004 and didn’t remember a conversation about it being closed.
A business does not prevent murders, he said.
“Common sense would tell us that we would just put something in place and have our business owner make sure that’s done,” he said. “If those protocols are not followed, then we go to another measure. But at least give the man a chance to do what he needs to do at the business. I think that’s only fair.”
JaQavina Brockington said she would like to see the Birmingham Police Department patrol the area instead of shutting down the gas station.
Revoke The License
Those who wanted the station closed included Patricia Taylor, Antonio’s mother, who said she wants the owner to be responsible for what happens there.
“If you got people coming on your property you’ve got to make sure that you have something in place to protect your patrons,” she said. “My son was not a thug. He never got a chance to even pump his gas before (he was shot). Today marks three months; my son left behind a six-month old baby.”
Resident Willine Body said she wants the right kind of businesses in the neighborhood.
“I’ve passed that service station on many occasions, and (people) congregate there . . . any time you see a rotting piece of meat and a bunch of flies it’s nothing good there.”
James King said the large crowds could spell trouble.
“It seems as though that business can’t learn from the experience of somebody dying, then maybe it’s time to shut it down,” he said. “If they don’t learn from this process the same thing will keep happening. Nobody is controlling it. You can’t even buy gas there. What are they doing there late at night? It’s nothing but trouble.”
Hoyt called for a business license revocation hearing before the city council, after the council’s public safety committee voted in July to let the Shell station stay open.
“I’ve been very across the board when we had these issues, these venues of violence, we have closed these places,” said Hoyt, who agreed to let the station remain open. “I am trying to be consistent and raise this issue. When I pass through there at night, everybody is out there.”
After the vote, the owner of the station, Ali Mohammed, said he has tried to reach out to the Taylor family, “but I didn’t get any answer. I’m there for them, and anybody in the community.
Taylor’s killer was charged with murder in June.