This weekend’s news was awful. You are absolutely excused if you decided to binge watch of “Van Helsing” on Netflix rather than follow the developments (I did a lot of the latter and a little bit of the former). But here are some stories you may have missed.
LMPD responds to objections to show of force at Black Lives Matter rally
The Louisville Metro Police Department was widely criticized on social media this weekend for coming, unrequested, to a Black Lives Matter march in response to Friday and Saturday’s white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., and the alleged murder of a protester during what is now being called an act of “domestic terrorism” by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The 20-year-old suspect, who has Kentucky ties, has been charged with second-degree murder, among other charges.
The “Lville2Cville Rally and March” assembled peacefully at the Carl Braden Center in West Louisville and marched east down Broadway to Baxter Avenue, and then south, eventually ending at Mid-City Mall around five hours later.
Twitter and Facebook users took to social media to post pictures of the LMPD response, which included officers holding large batons and LMPD squad cars nudging protesters in the road.
Sgt. John Bradley, LMPD PIO commander, posted a response to social media criticism on Facebook just after midnight. He said that the LMPD presence was “to facilitate the march and to protect the safety of the marchers.” Bradley said that the main LMPD focus was to keep the protesters on the sidewalk and off of the streets.
In response to those who questioned why officers would be armed with batons (especially in light of the fact that Charlottesville police officers were not as visibly armed during a protest that turned violent and then deadly), Bradley wrote, “Standard SRT (Special Response Team) deployment tactics were used to form a physical and visual barrier of police cars and officers in order to safely guide this routing, including the use of officers carrying long sticks. The use of these sticks was not meant to indicate a physical threat toward anyone, but served as a visual effect to help clearly define the barrier’s limits and intent.”
Comments on the Facebook post heavily support the police and many condemned BLM as being “terrorists” and “a hate group.”
Representative Attica Scott, D-41, was at the rally and called the police presence “escalation,” tagging Mayor Greg Fischer in a tweet.
— Attica Scott (@atticascott4ky) August 13, 2017
In light of the weekend’s events, Mayor Fischer strongly condemned the acts of violence by white supremacists in Virgina and announced a plan to review all public art in Louisville that may honor bigotry and racism.
LMPD is asking anyone with concerns regarding the rally to contact them at 502-574-7144.
Updated 4:05 p.m.
The Mayor issued the following 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.”
Speaking of public art…
A Change.org petition that asks for Mayor Fischer to take down the Castleman statue in the Cherokee Triangle has attracted more than 1,150 signatures.
Castleman was a Confederate major who led guerrillas in the attempted burning of supply boats and was arrested, convicted of spying, and sentenced to death and eventually pardoned. His involvement in the later establishment of the Louisville parks system has been widely overplayed. Castleman and his friends and family commissioned the statue themselves and he rallied for the segregation of the city parks.
The statue was vandalized this weekend. It was quickly cleaned up by city crews.
Oh please, give us some good news…
Well, if you’re into classic rock, the good news is that the Eagles are taking their tour to the Yum! Center in October. It’s part of the “Evening with the Eagles” tour. Yes, Glen Frey died, but his son, Deacon, will take his place and the country music star Vince Gill will also perform with the band. Tickets for the show go on sale to the general public beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday through LiveNation.com and Ticketmaster outlets.
Tomorrow is Jennifer Lawrence’s 27th birthday. So that’s nice.
And over the weekend, St. Xavier High School grad and Goshen resident Justin Thomas won the 99th PGA Championship title, his biggest win of his career. His dad is the head pro at Goshen’s Harmony Landing Country Club. His grandfather was also a golf pro.
Thomas played college golf at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. The 24-year old turned pro in 2013.
Finally, Mayor Fischer was touted as “the most innovative mayor in the country” on a CBS This Morning segment called “American Voices.”
“The strength of America is our human values,” he said, denouncing the hatred shown in Virginia. He also spoke about the need for greater social mobility, the opioid crisis, compassion and getting things done as a “blue” mayor in a “red” state.
Have a good day.