Louisville mayor responds to baton usage during march

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) – Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer released a statement in response to how the Louisville Metro Police Department used batons during a march on Sunday, Aug. 13.

The mayor said he recognizes that some were upset about the steps officers took to route people off the street and onto sidewalks during a Black Lives Matter march on Broadway.

The mayor asked Chief Conrad to review how to best handle situations like this in the future. The review is underway and the results will be shared with the public when the review is concluded.

The following is Mayor Fischer’s statement:

“On Sunday, Aug. 13, our city hosted three separate rallies in support of the people of Charlottesville, Va., and in opposition of the acts of domestic terrorism that occurred there over the weekend.

I’m extremely proud that all of those events were peaceful. I’m proud of the marchers and grateful that the hundreds who participated were kept safe. And I appreciate the work of Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad and his officers to help ensure that safety.

I recognize, however, that some people were upset by steps that officers took to route people off the street and onto sidewalks during a Black Lives Matter march down Broadway after one of the rallies. When I first saw the photos and videos, I too, had concerns, which I shared with Chief Conrad on Sunday night.

It is important to keep in mind that the officers’ responsibility was to keep people safe from traffic, to provide a safe space for them to march and to provide security in the event that counter-protesters emerged. And they were successful in those efforts.

Officers are trained to use a baton in the event that a horizontal police barricade is required in situations like this. I appreciate, though, that the batons prompted feelings of fear and mistrust among many of the marchers, their families and friends, as well as some who saw the images later.

That’s a reality we cannot ignore. And that’s why I asked the Chief to review how we should best handle incidents like this should they happen in the future.

This review has started, and we will share its results with the community.

I take great pride in the willingness of Louisvillians to come together to talk out our differences and our challenges, no matter how difficult.

LMPD strives to be the most effective community partners they can be, and I reiterate my appreciation for their service and their desire to always improve.

I also ask our marchers to maximize effective communication and cooperation with LMPD, with peace, safety and constitutional rights for all being the guiding values.

I believe that trust in our community comes from transparency, and I commit that we will continue with transparency as one of my administration’s values.”

The following is a statement from Black Lives Matter and Stand Up Louisville: 

"On August 13, 2017 at 3pm Black Lives Matter Louisville, community leaders and accomplices gathered to rally and march in solidarity with those impacted by the events that happened in Charlottesville, VA. After rallying at the Carl Braden Memorial Center hosted by Shalonte Brahnam of BLM Louisville and speakers such as Rev. David Snardon, Rev. Geoff Ellis, Mikal Forbush, Civil Rights Lawyer Dan Canon and others from DSA, ARA, LSURJ, Books and Breakfast, we began to march down Broadway occupying one side of traffic. LMPD took it upon themselves to escort us as we marched without being asked to do so.

To be clear, we did not nor have we ever contacted LMPD to ask for an escort, traffic control or the city of Louisville for a permit to protest and march in the streets of Louisville.

The detail and nature of the police escort was repeatedly told to us, by Assistant Chief Greg Burns and Lieutenant Mike O’Neil, as only a ‘friendly escort’ in which to keep everyone safe and quote, “not have an incident like Charlottesville.” As we passed 26th street, the officers began to grow in numbers of vehicles following closely to one side, in front and behind the march. As our march passed 9th Street, police were completely surrounding us from all sides, bumping marchers with their vehicles in an attempt to keep us on one side of traffic.

Yes, to clarify, we locked arms and attempted to take all of Broadway at 9th Street to cut traffic off completely to display how there has been a historically financial and political racial cutoff at 9th Street. As we made those attempts to take all of Broadway, we were immediately met with resistance.

One day, after peaceful protesters were hit by a car in Charlottesville, LMPD used their cars to intentionally hit protesters. As we neared the Highlands, a predominantly progressive white part of town, they met us with batons, readied pepper spray, zip ties, paddy wagons and cornered us onto the sidewalk and threatened arrest. We came with children, signs and our voices and we were met with excessive intimidation. Who were they actually there to serve and protect? Property over people?

“We gathered peacefully to share our pain, our anger, and our sorrow over the tragedies that occurred in Charlottesville, because we as Black and Brown leaders and organizers knew far too well that those actions could easily occur here in Louisville. We rallied in solidarity, and we marched with a purpose, with many of us being in the front lines innocent, without aggression, and even with children and young ones. We were clearly antagonized by LMPD with forcible shoving of police cars ramming into our marchers, intimidation tactics of paddy wagons, zip ties, and batons. If it was a matter of permit limitations, we would've been stopped at 26th, not when we were on the borders of 9th Street and again at Shelby Street, entering predominately white, gentrifying neighborhoods. If they were truly worried about OUR safety as marchers, threats and intimidation would not have been necessary. No hate group was represented in our march, no tiki torches were lit, and yet we were met with physical and mental intimidation by LMPD in a guise as safety enforcement,” Mijente Louisville Crew Community Organizer.

This isn’t a statement to clarify our position as community leaders and organizers, this is a statement to reiterate our positions against the overall tactics and culture of LMPD. Let us not forget:

• LMPD has killed several people with no indictments and no guilty verdicts even though some have been witnessed by video including the killings of Deng Manyoun and Darnell Wicker.
• LMPD has consistently operated without holding officers attuned with their Standard Operating Procedures; especially those stating that officers will not initiate situations that cause public unrest.
• Lt. O’Neil was involved in an incident of December 2002, in which he killed James Taylor, shooting him 12 times while his hands were handcuffed behind his back. He also was involved in the police brutality assault committed against Chanelle Helm, BLM Louisville Core Organizer the summer of 2002.
• LMPD has repeatedly been under numerous investigations including rape and incompetencies.
• The president of the River City FOP that represents many police officers, made a complete threat against activists and the disengaged community, mostly targeted at Black people. Previously made hideous comments about Rep. Attica Scott; who at the time was a Louisville Metro Council person.

Due to this short list and other actions relating to egregious activities of LMPD to our communities and the city of Louisville, we uphold our demands set forth:

• We call for the firing/resignation of Chief Steve Conrad for producing a community of law enforcement officers with no accountability to the community at large.
• We call for the firing/resignation of River City FOP president Dave Mutchler for his fascist leadership and rogue disregard for the community at large.
• We demand that Mayor Greg Fischer produce a statement on behalf of all law enforcement agencies in his jurisdiction to rebuke the statements sent out by the 45th President of the United States and his Attorney General inciting police violence upon citizens.
• We demand Louisville Metro Council members collectively ask for the firing/resignation of Chief Conrad, Dave Mutchler, and the statement from the city of which they are representatives of denouncing the the 45th President of the United States and his Attorney General inciting police violence upon citizens.
• We demand an immediate resolution to the way first responders in this city conduct themselves in Black and Brown communities.
• We demand restorative justice policies immediately be reviewed (developed and implemented by unbiased professionals selected by disengaged and impacted communities of environmental assault, employment deserts and food apartheid) and put in place for all Louisville Metro employees and other public servants until the abolition of the police.
• We demand that free housing be given to all residents and persons of the Beecher Public Housing complex up to a year as reparation for the police intimidation placed on the community.
• We demand that families failed by the Louisville Public Housing Authority be given refunds of vouchers taken by slumlords and used for current housing; whom take in over $2 million dollars in cheating residents out of income based housing.
• We demand all incentives around housing and VAPStat be made public and offered to blighted communities. The Land Bank and the city of Louisville should release property to residents that have been in their position for over 5 years. These 2 entities should also allow residents to obtain property that has been vacant for over 10 years.
• We demand all confederate monuments in the city of Louisville and the state of Kentucky removed and destroyed; displaying a celebration of genocidal chattel slavery historical prevalent throughout the state of Kentucky.
• We demand that private prisons in Kentucky are no longer funded by state funds, lift all shut down status from the Kentucky State Penitentiary and an immediate investigation of all human rights violations. We also demand a list of all person in the medical ward at KSP.
• We demand that criminal charges be brought upon all administration of the KYDJJ in office January 10, 2016 and before for the negligent culture that lead to the death of Gynnya McMillen and the violence committed against other youth in custody."

 

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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