A long time coming: A white former state trooper pleaded guilty Monday in Marion to misdemeanor second-degree manslaughter in the 1965 shooting death of a black man at a civil rights demonstration, according to Phillip Rawls of the Associated Press. James Bonard Fowler, 77, entered the plea two weeks before he was go on trial for murder in the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Fowler, who was sentenced to six months, claimed Jackson was trying to grab Fowler’s gun and that he fired in self-defense. Fowler apologized to Jackson’s family after entering the plea. Perry Co. District Attorney Michael Jackson, who reopened the case in 2007, recommended the plea to the victim’s family, saying he wanted Fowler to acknowledge what he did, apologize and serve some time. “This is almost like a death sentence for him at his age,” the D.A. said, according to Rawls.
New digs downtown: A new $35-million, 255-unit residential development in downtown Birmingham was scheduled to hold its grand opening this week. In a news release, the developers—Inland American Communities and Corporate Realty—herald Cityville Block 121 as Birmingham’s “premier mixed-use community, bridging UAB and downtown.” The development takes up an entire block between First and Second Avenues South and between 20th Street and Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. Cityville is an apartment complex, not a loft development. The developers hope that the project’s location near downtown, Railroad Park and the growing UAB campus will help make it successful. The building features a swimming pool, clubhouse, Internet cafe, fitness center, controlled-access parking and what the Cityville web site calls “gourmet” kitchens with the inevitable granite countertops. The development also has 20,000 square feet of retail space along 20th Street.
One and done? According to pollster Mark Penn, in his new “Power and the People” poll conducted for Politico.com, only 26 percent of the public believes President Barack Obama will be re-elected in 2012. Penn suggests that Obama learn a lesson from the drubbing the Democrats suffered in the recent midterm elections and come back to the political middle if he hopes to serve a second term. In 1994, Penn notes, President Clinton bounced back from horrendous midterms by moving quickly to the center and changing his policies. But not every president is willing to make that kind of aggressive course correction, Penn notes. “It should be clear now that the public believes it sent a very clear message to the president that they want new policies–particularly when it comes to government spending and healthcare,” Penn says. “They want him to move back to the center and focus on the economy.”
Bad news: One of Birmingham’s best contemporary art galleries, Bare Hands, finds itself in a sad limelight. Bare Hands will close for good December 30 after 14 years and nearly 350 exhibits, classes, lectures and performances. According to a news release from the gallery on Monday, the Bare Hands board of directors determined that “the non-profit is not sustainable in the present economy.” Bare Hands’ final exhibition, opening December 3, will be “SHINE 2010: Going Out with a BANG.” Normal hours will be maintained until the space closes. Jessica Helfrecht opened Bare Hands in 1996. Wendy Jarvis bought Bare Hands in 2000 and turned the gallery into a non-profit in 2004. In 2010, Bare Hands hosted the Birmingham Biennial 3, a major exhibition juried by renowned curator Dan Cameron. The gallery’s annual Day of the Dead Festival, according to the release, will continue as a new non-profit, Day of the Dead Alabama.