Hundreds of protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter” outside the Louisville Metro Police Department Headquarters in downtown on Friday.
The protests continued as Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer signed into law a ban on no-knock warrants and after Gov. Andy Beshear announced a statue of Jefferson Davis will be removed from the Capitol Rotunda.
University of Louisville student and youth organizer David Echeverria said he and other demonstrators are celebrating the passage of the ordinance banning no-knock warrants, but do not believe officials have done enough to grant justice for Breonna Taylor or stymie racial injustice in the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Echeverria said protesters would like to see the officers involved in Taylor’s death fired and prosecuted, and the Louisville police defunded with the money going to impoverished communities of color.
“So we are just demanding that police officers are fired, arrested and charged in Breonna Taylor’s case and that the police department is defunded with the upcoming budget being proposed,” Echeverria said.
— Ryan Van Velzer (@RyanVanVelzer) June 12, 2020
Protesters with Black Lives Matter Louisville began the demonstration at 2 p.m. at the Great Lawn of Louisville’s Waterfront Park. There, organizers passed out chants for the day including:
Harriet Tubman was a freedom fighter / and she taught us how to fight / We’re gonna fight all day and night / Until we get it right / Which side are you on my people, Which side are you on?
The refrain “Which Side Are You On” was originally written by the daughter of a union-organizing coal miner during the Harlan County War. It’s been riffed on at protests ever since, including Civil Rights protests in the 1960s.
Before the march began, an organizer called on the crowd to be peaceful, but also emphasized that continuing civil disobedience was necessary to meet their demands. Protesters marched through downtown streets with bikers riding ahead to block traffic at intersections.
Ahead of the march, helping to organize and inspire, walked Neal Robertson, People for Justice president. At one point, Robertson helped to make sure an ambulance could get through the road blocks ahead of the crowd.
“Man the people are speaking. You hear their mouths loud and clear. They’re calling out Breonna Taylor. They’re calling out George Floyd. They’re calling out David McAtee. And guess what? They’re are so many more names,” Robertson said.
Robertson called recent accomplishments “crumbs off a piece of pizza.” He said real change has to be economic. Robertson said it has to fix the economic inequality created by systemic racism.
“We’re fighting for economic change,” he said, adding that he also supports defunding the police and reallocating funding to West End communities.
In front of Metro Hall, organizers had the crowd of several hundred lock arms and stand for eight minutes of silence in solidarity with George Floyd. Afterward, an organizer on a megaphone lined up black and brown protesters on the inside with white protesters on the outside of the crowd then marched toward LMPD Headquarters.
Outside LMPD, protesters chanted Black Lives Matter and other slogans before peacefully walking around the corner and returning to Jefferson Square Park.