LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Police said they are in communication with multiple organizations planning for demonstrations in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby.
Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD Lt. Col. Andy McClinton said that while no fans means less traffic around Churchill Downs, LMPD and city officials are preparing for protests at or around the racetrack.
"It's very difficult to predict how many people will actually show up to these events," McClinton. "We have to be prepared in case large crowds do show up."
LMPD officers will be at or around Churchill Downs, specifically establishing areas along Central Ave. for people to protest.
"In an effort to keep those persons who want to protest safe, and in an effort to keep the general public who live and work in that space safe, we will try and funnel these persons with different viewpoints into specific areas to try and prevent confrontation between those groups," Maj. Aubrey Gregory said.
Kentucky State Police and National Guardsmen, who usually assist with public safety during Derby week, will also be on hand. Gregory said KSP and Kentucky National Guard will always be assisted by LMPD officers when responding to any incidents.
"They'll help by facilitating with some traffic control to ensure that those persons who are exercising their First Amendment rights are safe, and they may also respond if there's any incidents of violence or destruction," Gregory said.
McClinton said officers will also be placed downtown, along Broadway and near the Baxter Ave. area to "ensure any Derby celebrations or protest activity remains lawful."
Fischer said police will arrest anyone who is blocking traffic, "creating dangerous conditions" on roadways, trespassing on private property or committing violence or vandalism.
As rumors continue to circulate about what kind of groups may come to Louisville, Gregory said LMPD has been in contact with leaders of different groups and do have a plan in place to keep people safe at possible protests at Cox Park.
Gregory said he has been in contact with Grandmaster Jay, the leader of NFAC, about the black militia's plans to come to Louisville Saturday — coordinating plans to keep everyone safe.
Lt. Arnold Rivera announced Central Ave. from 3rd Street to Taylor Blvd. will be closed on Oaks and Derby beginning at 8 a.m. The full list of closures can be read below:
- Central Ave. west of 3rd Street – not turning west on Central Ave.
- 4th Street at Central Ave.
- 5th Street at Central Ave.
- 6th Street at Central Ave.
- Rodman St. at Central Ave.
- 9th Street at Central Ave.
- Taylor Blvd. at Central Ave. – no traffic to or from Central Ave.
In response to critics who have said the city is not properly protecting citizens, Fischer said the current time is "challenging," saying the city will continue to use all of its resources to address any safety issues.
During the state's daily COVID-19 press conference, Governor Andy Beshear said he had been briefed on LMPD's plan for the protests. He called the plan "thoughtful" and said it allows people to express their first amendment right while requiring they do it safely.
RELATED: 'We hope that it's the longest two minutes in the history of sports': Several groups plan protests for Kentucky Derby weekend
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