Protesters want to take to the streets, but are encouraged to keep off the highways.
A protest planned for Feb. 5, regarding police treatment of a 17-year-old male, Ulysses Wilkerson III, during an arrest, would not be legal, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).
The proposed demonstration would block U.S. Highway 231.
ALDOT Spokesman Brantley Kirk said there is no permit process for allowing protest groups to block a major federal highway.
However, the government is not allowed to prohibit marches on public streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas, according to the ACLU of North Carolina. Blocking a roadway is considered civil disobedience, according to FindLaw.com. Possible charges include resisting arrest, disturbing the peace, trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Kenneth Glasgow, the family’s spokesman, helped organize a previous rally for Wilkerson and his family and posed an ultimatum to Troy officials, demanding body camera footage and accountability for the officers involved in the incident. Despite demanding evidence, he still pleads for peace.
“I can say emphatically right now that the family has told me, as their advocate, that they want peace and want this very well organized,” Glasgow said on Jan. 10. “The family just wants answers.”
The protests and rallies are regarding the treatment of Wilkerson, who was arrested Dec. 23 and left with a cracked eye socket, brain swelling and facial swelling. Photos of his injuries made rounds on Facebook, garnering national attention.
Police say Wilkerson resisted arrest while running away from police and reached toward his waistband as if searching for a weapon.
When police retraced their steps, they found a handgun on the ground, which has been taken in as evidence.
“I know there is some body cam video and audio,” District Attorney Tom Anderson said. “I only know of one officer that was directly involved that did not have body cam video.”
The incident is currently being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). The SBI has met with Wilkerson’s family and their attorneys, but Glasgow said the meeting did not provide any new information.
Despite the ultimatum and constant demands for release of body cam footage, it is unlikely that the SBI will release any new information until the investigation is finished.
“SBI does not condone any premature releases of information that could jeopardize the rights of all involved parties and/or undermine the course of justice,” SBI officer Gregory Carpenter said.
“I want to stress to our community that we all must let the independent review process take its course, and I ask for your patience during the investigation by SBI,” Mayor Jason Reeves said in a statement.