Cooper Green supporters continued to protest outside the Jefferson County courthouse Tuesday morning even after the vote to close inpatient services was delayed.
Every seat was filled in the Jefferson County commission chambers for the meeting. Several protesters who weren't allowed inside due to fire code limits stood outside the chamber and courthouse.
Outside the courthouse, dozens of protesters held signs with the slogans "God help us to save Cooper Green," "Honk 4 Cooper Green hospital" and "Don't be mean to Cooper Green."
As commissioners began to discuss Cooper Green, protesters began singing and some said they would have to be carried out before they would leave. The crowd began to get "testy and emotional" as the commission president David Carrington called for a five minute recess.
After the break, Carrington moved to recess the meeting on ending Cooper Green inpatient care. He recessed the meeting around 10:30 a.m.
"This meeting was halted because God wanted it," Bishop Calvin Woods, president of the Birmingham SCLC chapter, said.
Woods called for "massive protests" against the closing of inpatient services when it was placed on the agenda last week. Woods said last Tuesday he planned to "flood the commission meeting" with Cooper Green supporters.
Sheila Tyson, the president of the Citizens Advisory Board and Cooper Green supporter, said today's delayed vote was "not a victory."
"We have a long, hard road ahead. We have to be at all committee and commission meetings," Tyson said. She asked for an even bigger turnout than today's protests.
"We had a lot of talking and now we are ready to do a lot of walking," Rev. Tommyl Lewis with Pratt City Bethel Baptist church said. "Cooper Green is not just for black folk but poor people," he added.
Community organizer Frank Matthews says the protesters are planning to caravan by commissioner Joe Knight's house. Last week, Cooper Green supporters protested outside of commissioner Jimmie Stephens' home after the commission voted 3-2 to place the Cooper Green vote on today's agenda.
Since the meeting was recessed, it will be at least another 24 hours before the county commission can hold another vote. Protesters are vowing to be back whenever that meeting takes place, and say they'll bring even more people.
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