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Louisville Protesters Make Demands to Police Following FOP Letter

Protest organizers on Monday issued a dozen demands to Louisville Metro Police, including a call to remove local police union president David Mutchler from the department.

The protest was a response to an open letter sent last week by Mutchler. In the letter, Mutchler blasted residents who had criticized police actions and tactics.

About 150 protesters attended Monday's demonstration in downtown Louisville.

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They held signs, chanted and blocked the flow of traffic on Jefferson Street near Seventh Street—just outside police headquarters—for about 30 minutes.

Protesters, led by activist Ashley Belcher and former Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott, said they want Mutchler fired by 5 p.m. Friday.

"If he's not, the people will respond," Belcher said. When asked what the response will be, she said "that's up for the people to decide."

The protesters are also demanding that Louisville Metro Police dismantles a special unit that targets violent persistent suspects, creates a database of shootings by officers, establishes a civilian review board with subpoena authority. The protesters also want the department's five highest-ranking leaders to publicly denounce Mutchler's letter.

Organizers were able to deliver the list of demands to police officials. A Louisville Metro Police spokesman said officials will examine and evaluate the demands.

The spokesman said the decision to close headquarters was made in effort to head off the potential for violence to happen inside the building.

No arrests were made during the protest, which lasted less than an hour.

Not everyone thought the protesters actions were successful, especially when it came to stopping traffic.

"This unnecessarily, potentially turns some friends into enemies," said Ricky Jones, a University of Louisville professor and chair of the university's Pan-African Studies Department.

Jones said the demonstration would have been more successful as a "political rally" instead of "shouting, a typical protest, blocking traffic of citizens who will partner with you instead of being pushed to the other side because of disruptive stuff that we don't really need right now."

Blocking traffic wasn't the initial plan, said Chad Bishop, an activist who also took part in Monday's demonstration.

"Our intentions were to just bring a letter and deliver a letter and have a silence protest," he said.

But when activists saw that Louisville police officials had closed headquarters, the plans changed.

"That sent us a message that they didn't really want to talk to us, so we had to improvise and do what the people wanted to do," he said.

"I think it went well."

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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