Alabama-based Black Lives Matter organizer Mercutio Southall Jr. and two other demonstrators who were forcefully removed for interrupting a Donald Trump rally on Saturday will not face criminal charges. And, for now, police say, neither will rally-goers seen on video choking and kicking the activists as they were removed.
Birmingham Police Lt. Sean Edwards said Monday morning that no charges will be filed against any of the three activists removed from the rally. He also said that no charges have been filed against the rally-goers seen attacking Southall and that the incident is not being investigated further.
Edwards said officers have tried to reach out to Southall but have not had any success.
“He knows how to reach us if he wants to file a complaint,” Edwards said.
The incident began when Southall, 31, a well-known and controversial local activist, began shouting “Black lives matter!” during a Trump campaign stop.
“Get him the hell out of here, will you, please?” Trump said from the stage. “Get him out of here. Throw him out!”
Southall, who could not be reached for comment by The Post, told AL.com that a rally-goer attacked him and another activist who was recording their protest. After being punched, Southall said, he punched back — prompting a fracas.
“They said ‘Go home, n****r, and somebody punched me,” Southall told the Web site.
Video captured by CNN showed Southall falling to the ground and being surrounded by several white men, who appeared to be kicking and punching him. A Washington Post reporter in the crowd watched as one of the men put his hands on Southall’s neck and heard a female onlooker repeatedly shout: “Don’t choke him!”
A September profile of Southall by AL.com declared: “Where there has been protest in Birmingham, there has been Mercutio — a giant of a man who is as contradictory as he is controversial.”
That piece lists incidents in which Southall has publicly clashed with police in recent years:
— Southall began protesting after one person was killed and eight were injured in a natural gas explosion in 2013.
— In 2014, he was involved in a two-hour standoff with police, during which he says he was legally carrying two firearms and a copy of the Constitution.
— In December, Southall was arrested again, this time in connection with a Black Lives Matter protest at a Walmart. Video of the arrest shows him asking an officer for his name and the officer refusing to provide the information and then instructing another officer to arrest the activist. Several officers then struggle to take Southall to the ground and appear to deploy a stun gun multiple times.
— In April 2015, Southall was arrested as part of another Black Lives Matter protest, which blocked traffic in downtown Birmingham.
— In August, the activist was arrested and Tasered during a protest after the in-custody death of 18-year-old Kindra Chapman, a woman who committed suicide after being arrested on a robbery charge.
“We’re all very familiar with Mr. Southall. The majority of the department knows who he is, and he knows how to reach us,” Edwards said. “Whether he files a complaint or not, I think he’s been successful in this opportunity, he’s made a national name for himself now.”
The altercation between Trump supporters and Southall quickly became a national story — the latest in a series of tense and at-times violent interactions between protest groups and supporters of the Republican presidential front-runner.
On Sunday, Trump refused to condemn the way his supporters treated the activists.
“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” Trump said on the Fox News Channel on Sunday morning. “I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a troublemaker who was looking to make trouble.”