Wetumpka, AL – In late June, two compassionate cat lovers were doing what they love…feeding homeless cats, and setting live traps to capture the felines who would then be taken to a veterinarian to be sterilized. But rather than accomplishing what they set out to do, Mary Alston, 60, and Beverly Roberts, 84, were confronted by the police.
The women were confused, initially assuming that it was some sort of mistake. Surely the police had no grievances with the “cat ladies of Wetumpka.” But as it turned out, the officers knew who the women were, and they wanted them to stop what they were doing.
In a video showing the interaction, Mary Alston can be seen explaining to the officers that she is trying to catch the cats to “help get them out” of the area, and she mentions that the city should be “thanking her” for her efforts. Alston is instructed to leave because she is “trespassing,” but when the officers return a short time later, she is still there, and so is 84-year-old Beverly Roberts. Roberts is told that she is being taken to jail for trespassing, and she seems to be rightfully taken aback by the statement.
Roberts is visibly upset after being told that she is being arrested and taken to jail and when she tries to give her car keys to Alston, the officer tells her that it is going to “get ugly” if she doesn’t start complying.
Ultimately, both women are put into cuffs and hauled to jail. Something they stated was “humiliating and degrading.” Worse than the humiliation is their inability to do what they love – feed the cats that need them. Roberts told the Montgomery Adviser, “All we want to do is feed starving cats. I don’t know how anyone could see starving animals and not want to help.”
It seems as if the police in Wetumpka targeted these women because they are known animal welfare advocates. In fact, 85-year-old Roberts is a bit of a “squeaky wheel,” helping to pass an ordinance in town banning dogs from being tied up or tethered, and drawing attention to cases of animal abuse and cruelty in the area at City Council meetings.
Imagine – using city resources to target women who are doing GOOD things for the community. Women who are raising awareness of animal cruelty, helping pass animal welfare ordinances, and caring for unwanted stray cats. If you find the charges against these women as outrageous as we at Animal Victory do, please add your name to the petition. Your signatures and comments will be sent to city officials along with our letter demanding that the charges be dropped.
We the undersigned demand that frivolous charges against Beverly Roberts and Mary Alston be dropped. Additionally, we want to see the city work WITH these women to improve the stray cat situation in the area, rather than against them. To our knowledge, Roberts and Alston are using their own resources to feed, trap, and sterilize these cats; their actions are an asset to the city and these women should be commended for their efforts, rather than punished.
On October 20, both women will appear in court to face their charges. Roberts is facing charges of criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct and Alson is charged with criminal trespassing and obstructing government operations. Your support is urgently needed in order to show court officials that we stand with Alston and Roberts!
A few reporters with Montgomery Advertising spent one-month writing an article regarding the situation. Below are a few screenshots and we will work on getting the article uploaded asap.
Update June 26, 2023: VICTORY! The case is closed.
Update April 2023: Animal Victory is pleased to report that the prosecutors have made motions to nolle prosse (no longer pursue) the cases against Alson and Roberts, and Elmore County Circuit Court Judge J. Amanda Baxley has approved the motions. There was no reason provided for the prosecutors’ change of heart, and the judge gave no indication as to why she granted the motions. The charges have not been dropped and city prosecutors have until June 25 to reinstate the charges if they choose to. Animal Victory is hopeful that the prosecutors will see reason and drop their pursuit of criminal charges against the women who were clearly trying to help. We thank everyone who took the time to sign our petition and help us fight for justice!
Update 3/27/2023: Animal Victory sent cover letter and petition to the judge.
Update 2/20/2023: The status hearing has been rescheduled to May 4, 2023, at 1:30, Elmore County Judicial Complex. Generally, at a status hearing, the defendant tells the judge they want a trial and the trial date is set.
Update 1/22/2023: The next court date/trial is February 23, 2023.
12/14/2022: Breaking News Update: Animal Victory is devastated to report that Mary Alston and Beverly Roberts were found guilty of four criminal charges on December 13. This case has drawn national attention and almost everyone agrees that the situation, especially the outcome, is ridiculous. Animal Victory has been in continuous contact with attorney William Shashy, who has assured us that this case WILL BE appealed. We are collecting signatures for the appeal with the hope that the judge will see the support the public has for these women; women who are being punished for trying to help control the stray cat population in Wetumpka.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION FOR THE APPEAL
Update12/12/2022: Court is December 13. Animal Victory has sent 15,009 signatures and our letter of intent to the Honorable William A. Shashy, presiding defense attorney.
Update 10/18/2022: Animal Victory has sent 14,000 signatures and our letter of intent to Honorable William A. Shashy, presiding defense attorney, Mayor Jerry Willis, and the entire/ staff at his office, as well as various news outlets. The court has been postponed. We will update the petition with the date as soon as we have more information.
Prior Signatures 22,043.