Black Lives Matter protesters were confronted by pro-police militias on Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby horse race. There were some skirmishes between the groups but there was no real violence.
BLM says they are protesting the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police last March after they served a “no-knock” warrant on her apartment.
About 250 black militia members belonging to the “Not Fu**ing Around Coalition,” who have shown up at several BLM protests in Louisville, were on hand to confront a similar number of white militia members. The confrontation occurred in Jefferson Square Park near downtown Louisville. There were some pushing and shoving incidents, but no punches were thrown and the police — including state troopers and members of the Kentucky National Guard — stayed away.
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Sadiqa Reynolds, president of the Louisville Urban League, said that while the race was not canceled as hoped she believes demands of protesters, which include holding officers involved in Taylor’s death accountable, were heard.
“Today was a show of force from the community of Louisville to say that enough is enough,” she told Reuters. “We are tired of our lives not mattering.”
The protesters marched to the racetrack but were kept from disturbing the festivities by a fence.
Kentucky’s black Attorney General David Cameron has been investigating the Taylor shooting.
“Today, while we honor a KY tradition with the running of the Derby, we remain cognizant of the community’s desire for answers in the investigation into the death of Ms. Breonna Taylor. We continue to move forward with our investigation, reviewing each fact to reach the truth”
The police were taking a cautious, hands-off approach to the demonstrations.
“We are prepared for others to express their First Amendment rights,” Louisville Metro Police Department Deputy Chief LaVita Chavous said. “We don’t know how large these crowds will be, but we do intend to not intervene with lawful protests that are not violent.”
Fences are erected around Churchill Downs every year for crowd management, she said.
Apparently, some demonstrators didn’t appreciate the police showing up ready for trouble.
Some residents criticized law enforcement’s preparation for the demonstrations, calling it excessive.
“To come out here and see armored vehicles, to see all the way around miles of fencing is ridiculous,” Pastor Timothy Findley Jr. said Friday.
The pastor apparently doesn’t get out much or read the newspapers. It’s a mindset that believes cutting the police budget or eliminating the police altogether would actually lead to a safer city.
Police certainly have their hands full with two ideologically opposed, heavily armed militia groups facing each other down. Nothing happened — this time. Let’s hope reasonable heads continue to prevail.