Five bells rang at City Hall Friday morning following a moment of silence for the five police officers killed following a protest in Dallas Thursday night.
Mayor Greg Fischer asked Louisvillians to invoke the spirit of the recent celebration of Muhammad Ali’s life and work to prevent violence here.
“We see tragic narratives play out in other cities,” Fischer said. “That does not have to be our city. These times make us ask fundamental questions of ourselves, as individuals and as a collective city.”
Nationwide protests, including in Dallas, were spurred by the deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota — both African-American men killed by police this week.
“And this is not a situation where you have to pick a side,” Fischer said. “Supporting police and supporting communities of color are not mutually exclusive.”
Chanelle Helm, activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Louisville, said although the mayor acknowledged Sterling and Castile on Friday, he did not hold a vigil for them after they were killed.
“Where are the vigils for the people who get killed every day by shootings,” she asked.
Louisville has seen a spike in gun violence and a record number of homicides this year. In the first quarter of 2016, homicides are up 44 percent over the same period last year, according to data from Louisville Metro Police. Shootings are up 39 percent over last year.
In 2011, Fischer signed a resolution to designate Louisville as a “Compassionate City.” But with increased violence, Helm said the city has a long way to go to earn that title.
“Right now, all this little Kumbaya talk is not getting it if we still have people dying in the streets,” she said.