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With Decision Looming, Mayor Greg Fischer Announces Countywide Curfew

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer stands at a podium during a July 2020 news conference.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County have nearly doubled in a week, with samples all showing the delta variant.

Mayor Greg Fischer is implementing a 9 p.m. curfew countywide for the next 72 hours, he announced during a press conference Wednesday in advance of a decision in the Breonna Taylor case.

Fischer asked for a "peaceful, lawful" response to whatever decision the grand jury and Attorney General Daniel Cameron announce this afternoon. But he said the curfew will be in effect from 9 p.m. until 6:30 a.m., with exceptions for those seeking medical care, going to work or attending worship services.

"We don't know what today or tomorrow is going to bring us, but we all obviously have a choice on how we're going to be responding here, and urge everybody to choose peaceful, lawful protest," he said.

Fischer said the curfew was one of three emergency orders he has put in place due to the potential for civil unrest.

As a result, Fischer urged protesters to gather during daytime hours and leave before the sun sets, which he said is when most violence and property destruction occurs.

Louisville Metro Police Interim Chief Robert Schroeder reiterated that parking and vehicle access are restricted in much of downtown, and said LMPD was trying to ensure that people who wanted to demonstrate peacefully could do so.

"We will not tolerate any violence or destruction of property," Schroeder said.

The Kentucky National Guard has been activated to assist in the response to demonstrations. Schroeder said the Federal Protective Service, FBI, ATF, and a number of other local, state and federal partners are also in town coordinating the response to protests.

A curfew was implemented in the early days of the protests over the LMPD shooting of Taylor. The governor called in the Kentucky State Police and National Guard to enforce it. David McAtee was shot and killed June 1 by a National Guard member after they went to the West End after curfew, where a crowd was assembled. After officers fired pepper balls at his barbecue stand, McAtee fired a shot, and LMPD and National Guard officers shot at him. He was killed by a National Guard bullet.

The last time a curfew was in place police also fired tear gas, pepper balls and smoke canisters at peaceful protesters ahead of and after the curfew was in place — leading to a reform that requires police leadership to sign-off on the use of tear gas.

LMPD began Monday evening to put in effect barriers, parking restrictions and checkpoints for those going into downtown.

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