UPDATE 12-16-15 6:40 p.m.
A statement from Mayor William Bell:
“We are concerned about the overall good of the city and keeping up the positive momentum that we have seen over the past several years. With that in mind, I have withdrawn my complaint.”
Bell has withdrawn the charges of third degree assault against Councilman Marcus Lundy.
Details are still coming in, but Birmingham Mayor William Bell and City Councilman Marcus Lundy had a physical confrontation in a back room during the council’s meeting this morning. Both men ended up needing medical treatment.
According to a statement from the Mayor’s Office released just before noon, “The Mayor is currently recovering at a local area hospital. A formal police report has been initiated and will be ready for release in the next hour. [UPDATE: The report is posted below.] From there, the magistrate will swear out a warrant for the arrest of Councilor Lundy. When approached by Birmingham Police, Councilor Lundy refused to give a statement.”
A tweet from the City of Birmingham offers details about Bell’s medical treatment.
The Mayor is currently receiving a CT scan and MRI. Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers.
— City of Birmingham (@cityofbhamal) December 15, 2015
But here’s a subsequent statement from City Council President Johnathan Austin:
“What occurred at City Hall today is a direct reflection of the lack of respect towards the Council and unwillingness to cooperate which has been ongoing for some time now,” Austin said. “We have worked continuously to move this city forward, and it’s a sad day when Council members are attacked while trying to do the job that they were elected to do.
“Councilor Lundy, who will press charges against Mayor Bell, has been transported to a local hospital to be checked for injuries to his thigh and legs. A picture of Councilor Lundy’s injuries can be found by clicking HERE.”
The reasons for the altercation are unclear. In comments to WBHM’s Esther Ciammachilli, Austin said he didn’t know what was behind the scuffle, but mentioned Bell calling Regions Bank, Lundy’s employer, in an attempt to get Lundy fired.
“The fact that he [Bell] is willing to go so low as to call a council member’s job and try to get him fired and threaten to move the city’s money from Regions Bank to another bank if they didn’t get this council member in line is beyond me,” said Austin.
Bell’s office denies the accusation. A Regions spokesman says they are looking into the altercation and had no further comment.
Austin also described tension between the council and the mayor’s chief of operations at a Monday committee meeting that was chaired by Lundy. Austin says the mayor’s office took back a city car from the council that had been on loan, without informing the council.