As protesters downtown marched in opposition to a short-term collective bargaining agreement with the Louisville police union, Metro Council members inside City Hall and joining virtually approved the controversial measure.
The vote was 16 to 10, with all six Black council members among those voting against.
The new contract includes a pay raise for officers, which council members agreed was necessary for attracting and retaining good officers. But opponents say the contract does not include sufficient accountability measures.
A few dozen protesters gathered outside City Hall before marching down to Broadway then back. They chanted in opposition to the police union, the contract and the pay raises in particular. Louisville Metro Police in riot gear came out twice, though they did not appear to interact with the group, based on livestreamed footage of the march.
Keisha Dorsey (D-3), who is Black, pleaded with fellow council members to recognize what message approving the contract would send. She said Black people have been waiting on reform for decades.
“We are still waiting, and Metro Council today, you are telling us to wait even longer,” she said. “That hurts. That is why we are fighting. That is why you hear protests today, because we are still waiting, and again you tell us to wait.”
Markus Winkler (D-17) said the contract was not ideal, but laid blame for some of its lack of reforms with state law.
“For those calling for reform, including our state lawmakers who have been at the forefront calling for reform, I would call upon them to address these issues in Frankfort,” Winkler said.
An attempt to table the resolution in hopes that the administration and Fraternal Order of Police would further negotiate failed to garner enough support.
The council members who voted for approving the contract were Pat Mulvihill (D-10), Kevin Kramer (R-11), Rick Blackwell (D-12), Mark Fox (D-13), Cindi Fowler (D-14), Kevin Triplett (D-15), Scott Reed (R-16), Markus Winkler (D-17), Marilyn Parker (R-18), Anthony Piagentini (R-19), Stuart Benson (R-20), Nicole George (D-21), Robin Engel (R-22), James Peden (R-23), Madonna Flood (D-24) and David Yates (D-25).
Those against were Jessica Green (D-1), Barbara Shanklin (D-2), Keisha Dorsey (D-3), Barbara Sexton Smith (D-4), Donna Purvis (D-5), David James (D-6), Paula McCraney (D-7), Brandon Coan (D-8), Bill Hollander (D-9) and Brent Ackerson (D-26).
The contract is set to expire on June 30, 2021, and the administration and union have committed to start negotiations on a permanent contract early next year.