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Louisville police arrest pro-Palestinian activists during protest at weapons companies

Blue light atop a law enforcement vehicle
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Louisville police said 15 people were arrested for trespassing during a protest on Friday. Demonstrators were calling for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Police arrested 15 people Friday morning for trespassing on property owned by two major defense contractors. A Louisville coalition calling for a cease-fire in Gaza blocked entrances to the facilities.

The Louisville Metro Police Department said in a statement that it charged protestors with Class B misdemeanors for trespassing on private property.

A Facebook livestream on Friday showed activists holding banners displaying the Palestinian flag and offering support for Palestinians. They blocked entrances to the Airport Industrial Center, an industrial park near Louisville’s international airport. It was their third protest there since November.

A group of people holding a Palestinian flag with "KY TO PALESTINE, WE WILL RESIST" and other protest messaging. It is before sunrise. A caption over the image says, "Activists in Louisville, KY block entrances to Raytheon"
Louisville Ceasefire Coalition Instagram
Activists who oppose Israel's war in Gaza blocked entrances to weapons manufacturing facilities in Louisville on Feb. 2, 2024

The park includes production facilities owned by two military weapons manufacturers: the U.S.-based RTX Corporation, formerly known as Raytheon, and the U.K.-based BAE Systems.

Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice, a local activist group, said in a press release Friday that the event was held by the Louisville Ceasefire Coalition to protest the companies. RTX supplies weapons to Israel, while BAE helps make F-35 fighter jets that Israel uses. Activists across the world accuse the two companies of creating weapons being used in Israel’s attacks in Gaza.

David Horvath, a spokesperson for both groups, said the coalition, which formed in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks, is reaching out to government officials to push for an end to Israel’s war in Gaza.

The ongoing war was sparked by Hamas killing more than 1,000 people and taking hundreds hostage. Israel’s response — a siege and military invasion of Gaza — has killed at least 27,000 people there as of Friday, according to local health officials.

“We want a cease-fire, and we want a permanent cease-fire, which is eventually going to involve reduction of military aid to Israel. And so that's the reason we were at these particular locations,” Horvath said.

The protest began at 5 a.m. Friday, which Horvath said was intended to disrupt the companies. He estimated 60-75 people took part in protests at the industrial park.

A BAE Systems spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the company respects “everyone’s right to protest peacefully. We remain proud of the products and services we provide to our customers to prevent and hopefully deter conflict.”

RTX did not respond to a request for comment.

Roberto Roldan contributed reporting.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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