At Tuesday's meeting of the Birmingham City Council, councilwoman Crystal Smitherman told Mayor Randall Woodfin she was "at a loss of words" in response to recent shootings in the Five Points South neighborhood, one of which she said happened last weekend.
Five Points South is the area surrounding the University of Alabama Birmingham. Part of the neighborhood lies within Smitherman's District 6 and other parts in District 3, which Councilwoman Valerie Abbott represents.
Three homicides occurred in Birmingham over the weekend in West Birmingham near the Ensley neighborhood. Another homicide in West Birmingham occurred on Monday. Five Points South, on the other hand, is located on the east side of the city.
The Birmingham Police Department has investigated 114 murders so far in 2023. Last year, the department investigated a total of 144 murders. It was the city's most violent year since the 1990s.
Numbers pertaining to non-lethal shootings are unknown.
Smitherman said a business owner in Five Points South contacted her, expressing concerns about public safety in the area.
"This guy has been a business owner for over ten years, and there was a shooting this past weekend," she said. "There have been shootings multiple times. [He asked if] we can have an increase in police. That night, I think [Abbott] got the same email from the same Five Point South resident asking the constituents all to come to the meeting because they're crying out for help."
Smitherman said she thinks the members of the Five Points South community don't think the city cares.
"I know we can't stop guns," she added. "Abbott has done all she can do. I have done all I can do. But we only have so many restrictions, so we need your help."
She also said she doesn't mind meeting with Woodfin or BPD Chief Scott Thurmond to discuss possible solutions.
"Something has to be done because I don't want to lose businesses," she pleaded. "I don't want people to be afraid to go down there, so really, I'm just asking for your help. Whatever we can, whether it's locally or on the state level because it's ridiculous how Five Points South has changed."
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