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Demonstrators gather for a second day of protest to criticize Hankison's acquittal

Chris Wells was one of many figures from the 2020 protest to speak at Friday's demonstration.
Chris Wells was one of many figures from the 2020 protest to speak at Friday's demonstration.

Dozens of protesters gathered at Jefferson Square Park on Friday in response to former Louisville Metro Police officer Brett Hankison’s acquittal.

It was the second day of demonstrations after a jury found Hankison not guilty of three counts of wanton endangerment for firing bullets into a neighboring apartment during the police raid that killed Breonna Taylor. He was the only officer charged in relation to the raid.

Several people gave speeches reacting to the verdict at Friday’s demonstration, calling for renewed protest efforts. 

“We’ve been out here way too long to keep seeing the same things, the same results,” said Chris Wells, who’s been a leading figure at the protests since 2020. “Everywhere else has got justice.”

Wells said he believes one of the reasons for the lack of progress is the city’s government.

“These politicians that we’ve had in the city have been there way too long,” Wells said. “This has to change, and it has to change today.”

Mayoral candidate Shameka Parrish-Wright, another prominent figure from the 2020 protests, is also calling for change in city leadership. Her political platform promotes goals that are similar to those pushed by local activists.

“Yesterday was another example of why we need better leadership,” Parrish-Wright said.

Parrish-Wright said the no-knock warrant used for the raid on Taylor’s apartment was “bogus,” and the judicial process that followed — the lack of charges brought against officers and Hankison’s acquittal — all lack legitimacy. 

She hopes the renewed protests following the Hankison verdict remind people about the ongoing fight for justice and equality.

“Don’t look at us as we’re bad because we’re right here, back at Injustice Square,” Parrish-Wright said. “We’re here again because we shouldn’t have to be. We’re here again because the system again has failed all of us.”

Speakers at Friday’s protest said Hankison’s acquittal shows police violence affects everyone, regardless of race. The family who lived in the apartment next to Taylor’s are white. 

“They made it clear that Black lives still don’t matter, and if you’re poor and white in this country, they don’t care about you either,” Jeffery Compton said.

With the Hankison decision renewing protest efforts, activists are aiming to have more control of the narrative surrounding the racial justice movement.

“It’s our job to make people understand why we’re doing what we’re doing,” said Chris Will, a leader of the 2020 protests. “I feel like we didn’t do enough of that.”

Will said there are plans to move beyond public marches and caravans in the future.

“We’re definitely trying to move towards the legislative part,” he said. “Greg Fischer, we definitely need a meeting. Erika Shields, we definitely need a meeting. Metro Council, we definitely need a meeting.”

After the speaking portion of Friday’s demonstration, a caravan of cars made its way to a mural on 11th Street that features Black people from the Black Lives Matter movement.

The caravan later went down Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue before concluding the march at Mid City Mall. 

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.