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LMPD Video ‘Puts Target On The Black Community,’ Organizer Says

Ryan Van Velzer

After one week of protests for racial justice in Louisville, Metro Police Lt. Col. Josh Judah played a compilation video for reporters that showed only Black people committing what he described as “violent, aggressive, destructive” looting.

Judah played the video during Mayor Greg Fischer's afternoon press conference where he announced an end to the citywide curfew. Fischer said LMPD played the video because some people have been skeptical that looting was happening at all.

In more than four minutes of footage titled "Criminal Examples in Louisville," police show at least nine Black people committing what appear to be criminal acts, while images of white people seen in the videos are those of officers on the scene.

That’s despite numerous reports online of white people also participating in looting and causing property damages; videos of white people dressed in all black, armed with hammers, smashing windows in downtown, including the front windows at Louisville Public Media on Fourth Street.

That the diversity of those committing property crimes was not reflected in LMPD’s compilation video demonstrates exactly the kind of stereotyping and discrimination that protesters are rallying against, said Savvy Shabazz, a protester who works with the Bail Project.

“So for them to put that out, it puts a target right back on the Black community again and that’s now what we are,” Shabazz said.

Shameka Parrish-Wright with the Kentucky Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression said that she applauds Fischer’s decision to end the citywide curfew and LMPD’s decision to use less force — teargas has not been used on protesters in two days. But Parrish-Wright also said that videos like the one played by LMPD perpetuate stereotypes and divert attention from the movement's true purpose.

“It’s a distraction, it’s a distraction and we won’t let distractions stop us,” Parrish-Wright said. "However many people it was doesn't represent over 700,00 Louisvillians who are impacted by police violence, especially the Black community."

Parrish-Wright said that Black people are funding the very police that are "killing us and abusing us in the street." She said everyone deserves protection from police, no matter what status they have in life.

At Gov. Andy Beshear’s Thursday evening press briefing, a reporter asked if LMPD was putting Black people at further risk of danger because of the compilation video. Beshear sidestepped the question saying that he has “concerns right now where tensions are generally.”

“What I hear, I think, is the truth is, race still permeates every part of America,” he said.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story included LMPD booking numbers for June 1. We've removed that data because it included all bookings, not just those related to the protests. 

Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.

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