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Activists Worship At Waterfront Park During Faith-Fueled Protest

On Monday, hundreds gathered at Waterfront Park to protest in the spirit of a church revival.

Louisville demonstrations have taken many forms in recent months, from street marches to sit-ins to candlelight vigils. Monday's faith-based call to action was the latest in a series of events called BreonnaCon, designed to raise awareness about the death of Breonna Taylor, who police shot and killed in March.

Families, couples and friends danced on the lawn in the light of the setting sun reflecting off the Ohio River, and listened to spiritual leaders speak on the intersection of faith and protest.

Short sermons were interspersed with musical acts like one from No Justice No Peace that made use of the chants heard over the last few months: "Say her name, Breonna Taylor," "No justice, no peace, no racist police."

Pastor Timothy Findley, from the Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center, said Louisville must work to live up to the moniker adopted by the Metro Council back in 2011: Compassionate City. He says compassion is more than sympathy, it’s action, and the city must do more to combat institutional racism.

Another Louisville pastor, Bruce Williams, explained why.

“There is no safe place in America for Black people, whether you are driving in your car and being pulled over by the police, it’s not safe, whether you are standing in front of your own house and looking suspicious you are not safe, whether you are barbecuing in the park, but you just happen to be the wrong color, it’s not safe,” Williams said.

Magellan Malala had never been to a protest event before, but on Monday he attended a workshop put on by Until Freedom, the national advocacy group who organized BreonnaCon.

Malala said he felt like it was his civic duty to better understand and help out his fellow citizens.

“Being from American Samoa, I mean I’m not white, or Black, or Hispanic," he said. "A lot of times with these kinds of things I feel like I’m on the outside looking in, which is part of the reason I wanted to try and understand this problem a little more.”

Pastor Findley said that by virtue of showing up and engaging with community, people like Malala are fulfilling the responsibilities we have to each other to become a compassionate city. But he says more work is still necessary.

“With the same level we praise here, we have to stand against and fight every racist, unfair and ridiculous policy this city puts out," Findley said.

Tuesday is the final day of BreonnaCon and event organizers say they are planning a day of action that will include a march on the Louisville Metro Police Training Academy.

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

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