Downtown On Edge As Louisville Waits For Breonna Taylor Announcement
The city continues to wait for an announcement from the state attorney general’s office, releasing the results of the Breonna Taylor investigation. But preparations were already underway downtown yesterday for potential "civil unrest."
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer issued two executive orders Tuesday. The first declaring a state of emergency for the city, in anticipation of the announcement, and the second banning on-street downtown parking and limiting access to parking garages.
Overnight Monday police set up barricades to keep most cars out of downtown. This came after Louisville Metro Police Department’s interim chief Robert Schroeder issued a memo Monday, also declaring a state of emergency and said there would be no time off for officers indefinitely.
Tuesday afternoon, businesses boarded up.
Jim Reskin, who owns a building on 4th Street, supervised workers as they nailed plywood over the windows of a downtown business.
“We’re trying to be cautious, we’re trying to be sensible, we’re trying to be proactive,” Reskin said. “You know, they [the city] went with the abundance of caution approach and I respect that, to some degree."
He hopes his preparations aren't all for naught and that the decision comes soon.
Taylor, 26, was shot and killed in her apartment in March by Louisville Metro Police officers, who were executing a search warrant that had a provision allowing them to enter without knocking or announcing themselves. The attorney general’s office began investigating her death in May.
In Jefferson Square Park on Tuesday, protester Carmen Jones, founder of the Black Women’s Collective, was anxious for a decision to come down.
“I really don’t know what’s gonna happen,” Jones said. “It’s very eerie out here right now. Like it’s very calm. But it’s just prickly.”
She thinks the concrete and wire fencing barricades around downtown are an “intimidation tactic” on the part of the police while the city awaits the decision.
“If it doesn’t [come down], like, why are you guys doing this?” Jones asked. “Why are you setting up like this, playing with people’s minds, playing with people’s emotions. But then again this is just another form of warfare… mental, emotional warfare.”
Jones said just existing and living as a Black person “every single day is a protest.”
“When I wake up and I go to work, and I have a good day,” Jones said. “If I spend my day in a bathtub reading a book, binge-watching Netflix, guess what, I’m protesting. Because every single day the system looks for ways to hurt people who look like me. To kill people who look like me.”
Vocalist and protester Diamond Dorsey was improvising in the square, putting her feelings into music, while a friend played piano.
“I pray to god these guys get held accountable,” Dorsey sang.
She said she thinks people have the wrong impression about Jefferson Square Park, which has become a hub for protesters the past several months.
“Everybody just thinks this place is crazy and we’re out to get everyone. But at the end of the day all we want is peace,” Dorsey said.
Livestreamer Chea K. Woolfolk said she’s been out everyday since the protests began in Louisville in late May. She was floored by testimony that LMPD officials gave last week during a meeting with Metro Council. At that meeting, Lt. Col. Josh Judah described the early demonstrations as an intense clash between police and “angry” protesters wielding “medieval weapons.” He did not offer evidence for his claims.
“None of that’s happened!” Woolfolk said, calling the hours-long hearing a work of “fiction.” “No one’s walking around with a trident or a javelin!... If I had a smidgen of respect for Metro Government, I don’t any more.”
Mayor Greg Fischer said they haven’t gotten word yet on when State Attorney General Daniel Cameron will release the investigation, but they expect it soon, and these measures are meant to protect people and property.
“My hope is that we will continue to see peaceful, lawful protests, which is what we have seen the vast majority of these 100-plus days and nights,” Fischer said in a statement he released on social media.