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Louisville Mayor Announces Immediate End To City-Wide Curfew

A National Guard Humvee at a protest over police brutality in downtown Louisville on May 30, 2020.
A National Guard Humvee at a protest over police brutality in downtown Louisville on May 30, 2020.

Mayor Greg Fischer announced the immediate end of the city's curfew Thursday afternoon after he said he's heard concerns from law enforcement and citizens.

Fischer said there's been a lot of comments on the curfew's "inconveniences," and the city's inability to apply it evenly throughout all parts of the city. He apologized if protesters were caught up as law enforcement were trying to deal with threats of violence. He did not explain what that was in regard to.

Fischer thanked those who have protested peacefully, and encouraged that to continue, but said criminal elements have been "hijacking" the purpose of the protests.

"The curfew did help," Fischer said.

He asked for buy-in from citizens, and said if threats to public safety arise again, the curfew will "more than likely" be reinstated.

Immediately after announcing the lifting of the curfew, and his gratitude for peaceful protesters, Fischer introduced LMPD Lt. Col. Josh Judah, who began to condemn what he called “violent, aggressive, destructive” looting.

Judah played a compilation of videos of vandalism that began with SWAT officers taking fire at the corner of 26th and Broadway — the same place where days earlier, law enforcement shot and killed David McAtee.

The vast majority of the people visible on the tape were Black, though numerous videos from Friday evening's downtown looting showed white people dressed in all black, armed with hammers.

"Some people have been skeptical that looting is taking place in the city," Fischer said about why the video was played. He noted that a curfew did not stop those incidents from happening.

He said the ending of the curfew does not mean the withdrawal of the National Guard. The Guard members will still be used as needed.

Curfew Has Come With Tear Gas, Real Bullets

It's been a week since the protests began in Louisville, at a march honoring Breonna Taylor, who was killed by LMPD officers in March.

That first evening, the protests were large but peaceful until gunshots rang out, wounding seven people. After that, police in riot gear began using tear gas, pepper balls and other methods in an attempt to disperse the crowds.

On Friday, numerous businesses in downtown Louisville were vandalized, and on Saturday, Fischer put in place a 9 p.m. curfew. Gov. Andy Beshear authorized the National Guard to come in and assist in enforcing that curfew.

Shortly after midnight on Monday, LMPD and National Guard members were dispatched to clear a crowd in the West End, which was not part of the protest but a typical Sunday evening gathering on a busy intersection at 26th and Broadway.

As law enforcement began firing pepper balls, a flood of people rushed into Yaya's BBQ. LMPD officials say the restaurant owner, David McAtee, fired a shot out the door before officers returned fire, killing McAtee.

The curfew had originally been extended through June 8, but has been ended immediately.

This story will be updated.

Kate Howard is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

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