Ashley Cleek

Ashley Cleek is a freelance multimedia journalist.

Barbecuing to Stop Violence in Selma

For Tamalyn Whatley, living in Selma, Alabama, violence is always nearby. “It’s an everyday thing,“ the 24-year-old explains as she plays with her youngest son in the front yard of family’s her home. “I see it and deal with it.” She grew up in this house, where she lives now. It’s also where her mom […]

Birmingham Revitalization: Some Neighborhoods Feel Ignored by City Hall

When David VanWilliams moved to Birmingham, he was looking for a fixer-upper and fell in love with the neighborhood of Inglenook. Inglenook sits just north of the airport. Like its southern neighbors, Crestwood and Avondale, Inglenook has turn of the century brick bungalows and wide streets with sidewalks. But unlike those other neighborhoods, potholes mark the road and many houses are in disrepair. Residents don’t have the money to fix them.

Remembering April 27: Cordova Recovery Means Unease

This week marks the fifth anniversary of a massive tornado outbreak that killed more than 250 people across Alabama. Since those storms on April 27, 2011, communities have been slowly rebuilding. Two tornados tore through the town of Cordova, northwest of Birmingham. Five years later, some residents feel uneasy about the change.

Rotary Trail Opens in Downtown “Magic City”

Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday evening to celebrate the opening ceremonies of Rotary Trail along 1st Avenue South in downtown Birmingham. While sipping free champagne and eating popsicles, residents took pictures in front of the new “Magic City” sign – a throwback to an old sign that welcomed visitors to Birmingham more than 60 years […]

Meeting Over Changes to Mayor-Council Act Incites More Debate

At a public meeting Monday night, more than a hundred people huddled into a tight room in the Jefferson County courthouse. Residents poured out into the hallway. They gathered to discuss proposed changes to the Mayor Council Act, legislation that divides powers between the mayor and city council.

Calls for Governor Bentley’s Resignation Continue to Grow

It’s just under a week since scandal rocked Montgomery. Last Wednesday, Alabama’s former top cop told the media about an affair between Governor Robert Bentley and his top advisor and a phone sex tape surfaced online. While Bentley continues to deny any “physical affair” with Senior Political Advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason, calls for his resignation have only gotten louder among state leaders.

Birmingham Residents Speak on Potential Changes to Mayor-Council Act

More than 100 people gathered in city council chambers Thursday night hoping to understand the latest grievance between the mayor and city council and encourage civility. Tensions between Birmingham Mayor William Bell and the city council have been high for months. In December, there was a scuffle between Councilman Marcus Lundy and Mayor Bell that sent both […]

Crime in Greater Birmingham: Targeting the Violence

There was a spike in homicide last year and Birmingham is on pace to hit a new high this year. Studies show much of this violence isn’t random. According to data from the University of Cincinnati Policing Institute, less than one percent of a city’s population contribute to more than 73 percent of violent crime. Other cities have instituted programs to cut down on homicide, by targeting the groups and people most likely to be involved. Birmingham started its own initiative last year.

Judge in Jefferson County Rules Alabama’s Death Penalty Statute Unconstitutional

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hurst v. Florida that Florida’s death penalty statute was unconstitutional. Alabama and Delaware are the only other states with similar statutes that require a judge – not a jury – to make the final decision about life of death in a capital case. Attorney General Luther Strange has held that the Supreme Court ruling does not apply to Alabama. But today one judge in Jefferson County disagreed. Ruling that the death can’t currently be imposed in Alabama.

Birmingham City Council Ups the Minimum Wage

The Birmingham City Council’s agenda was long, but all anyone seemed to care about was what the minimum wage would be come Wednesday. The council passed the initial minimum wage ordinance unanimously in August (Councilor Valerie Abbott abstained), but today, members were divided. Councilors Kim Rafferty and Valerie Abbott voted against the ordinance. Abbott said she’d received multiple […]