Mayor Greg Fischer made an unannounced visit to Jefferson Square Park Tuesday afternoon to address demonstrators — six days since protests first began.
Fischer appeared before a crowd of more than 100 demonstrators including students, nurses, people of faith and many others. Standing on a raised planter above Jefferson Square, Fischer began by saying that he acknowledges there is a problem with police trust and legitimacy.
“A police officer should look at themselves as a guardian, not a warrior,” he said.
Fischer said he was there to listen to the crowd, then began to field questions. Someone asked about the disproportionate police presence in the predominantly Black West End. Fischer responded that there is more crime where incomes are lower.
He said one solution to racial injustice in policing is to increase the number of Black people in Louisville Metro Police Department, acknowledging that right now Louisville’s force is not reflective of the community.
Fischer also responded to calls to fire the officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death by police in her home while plain-clothed officers executed a no-knock warrant.
He started another comment by saying “Let’s assume the police should be fired…” and was nearly drowned out by protesters yelling that they should be.
Fischer then went on to explain that if the city does not follow the law and fires the officers, they will be back on the force in a week — with back pay.
“I understand why you don’t trust the system. I get that. I get that. But the system is not going to be blown up overnight,” he said.
Fischer started the speech with a healthy amount of good will, but in his final minutes of answering questions that goodwill seemed to waver as increasingly loud calls for his resignation sprang from the crowd.
Fischer said he knew the crowd wasn’t going to like his answer, but the law needed to be followed.
“Some people think I lie all the time. I think I tell the truth all the time,” he said.
A Black man screamed, “the law does not work for us.”
Fischer ended by saying he will hang around and answer questions. Police then immediately escorted him south, away from the square and into a building on Liberty Street.
Then immediately walks away pic.twitter.com/ZeuTA3zWtd
— Ryan Van Velzer (@RyanVanVelzer) June 2, 2020