Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling issued a statement Thursday saying the city will begin enforcing permit requirements for protesting.

For weeks, protests have been ongoing in Decatur outside City Hall and the mayor's home since local police officers shot and killed Stephen Perkins on September 29.

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Bowling said all applicable state and federal laws or local rules concerning disorderly conduct and failure to disperse will be enforced.

Bowling has called the demonstrators' behavior over the past several weeks "alarming and certainly disruptive." He said he understood it was part of the healing process and initially advised his police chief to allow them to occur unhindered. However, he has now decided that the lull in enforcement is over.

In his statement, he apologized to his neighbors for the disruption. He also said he has received many complaints from residents in the downtown area. He said he consulted with the city legal department and police chief to enforce the local noise ordinance of 10 p.m.

"I want to assure those concerned that I have heard your voices," Bowling said. "I cannot, however, continue to allow these disruptions in any neighborhood in our city."

He added, "After, again consulting our legal department I have conceded to what they and law enforcement have been advising me from the beginning, that the right to protest should not and may not infringe on the rights of others and the rule of law must be restored to allow peace for all of our citizens."

Bowling said that as of December 28, "Anyone wishing to protest or demonstrate must obtain a permit from the City of Decatur per existing city code."

Alabama has laws pertaining to disorderly conduct and disorderly persons along with city ordinances that pertain to demonstrating, and starting Thursday, those laws, Bowling said, will be enforced.

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