Mayor Bell updates Operation Green Wave and Civil Rights National Park designation status

Birmingham, Alabama public works truck
Birmingham, Alabama public works truck

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Mayor William Bell launched Operation Green Wave back in September. It is a city-wide clean up effort  to increase the demolition of vacant homes and remove inoperable cars parked on streets and in front yards.

Mayor Bell says 29,356 tons of trash have been cleaned up, 6,125 lots have been cut, 1,000 blocks of alleys and 650 blocks of ditches have been cleaned up.

Bell says the Green Wave initiative is really about going back into neighborhoods and rebuilding them.

“It’s more than just about cutting lawns, it’s about cleaning up our communities and neighborhoods and we ask that the public help us maintain that by making sure that after we come through the neighborhood see that debris and trash not thrown back in the area,” said Mayor Bell.

Bell says right now the city has about 1,000 requests from people who want to take over abandoned lots and rebuild on them through the side lot program.

The city has demolished over 600 structures in 2016.

Mayor Bell also pushed an effort to get the city designated as a Civil Rights National Park. That would include the 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the A.G. Gaston Motel.

Bell says right now he’s waiting to hear back from the National Park Service about the designation. He says the city has submitted all of the necessary documentation. He went on to say the city has been asked to hold several dates open but hasn’t received final confirmation that it’s a done deal.

One thing for sure, Mayor Bell wants it to happen before President Obama leaves The White House.

“It would be historic for President Obama to sign the presidential order from the standpoint of what he represents in terms of the progress of civil and human rights has made in our country and the contribution that Birmingham has made to that.” said Bell.

CBS42 also asked Mayor Bell about all of violent crime in the city this year. He says 90% of the violent crimes in the city involved people who knew each other, much of those instances surrounded drugs.

In the last couple of weeks, a woman was killed inside of a club, a man was found shot to death in the middle of the street, a man and woman were found shot to death inside of a burning home and just last night, a man was killed at a gas station.

Mayor Bell says it’s difficult to stop people who know each other from hurting each other, but regardless, he’s not happy with the current stats.

“To say that we’ve exceeded 100 deaths in our city some of those deaths were situations that no one could’ve prevented it and we just continue to give our police officers the resources that they need to carry out their responsibilities.” said Bell.

Bell encourages more spot checking, checking for unlicensed guns and finding ways to attack the drug problem at the source.

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