LMPD and Fischer Show No Accountability
I just got done walking my dog. It is a fairly peaceful morning. A light breeze is blowing and it is in the mid-60s temperaturewise. Birds are chirping. People are eating brunch outside of Gralehaus. There were only a few indicators of the mayhem that occurred just 12 hours before. A stray pepper ball on the sidewalk. An abandoned sign that said "Silence is betrayal." A shelf with milk and water bottles outside of a black-owned business.
Of course, last night was a different scene. A paramilitary police force assisted by the national guard came out in numbers to harrass peaceful protesters who were honoring the memory of Breonna Taylor and demanding the arrest and prosecution of her murderers, 3 LMPD officers, along with other demands. The scenes last night in Louisville were a display that police have no accountability to their elected officials, are now openly hostile toward the media, and are actively inciting violence against peaceful protesters.
Mayor Greg Fischer has no control. Last night, at 10:30 PM Fischer hosted his 3rd address of the day to provide an update on the situation. During that presser, Mayor Fischer did not even mention Breonna Taylor until about 3 minutes into the 4 minute half-hearted address before taking questions.
The first question he received was, "Did you consider addressing protesters on the street before curfew tonight, and why did you decide not to?"
A visibly confused Fischer did not understand that the question was about speaking to the needs of protesters, acknowledging their pain, and hearing their demands for justice. Instead, he thought the question was about ordering protesters to disperse. He responded by thanking people for abiding by the curfew and spoke some sparse details on ordering remaining protesters to disperse. This response contained a clear lack of empathy (so much for #CompassionateLouisville).
The next question was, "Why were police destroying protesters supplies including water and milk earlier this evening?"
Fischer responded with a bold-faced lie, one that was likely fed to him by the police. He claimed that supplies included mason jars with flammable material and that the materials were removed for the safety of everyone. In the video such items are not seen, and if it were true it would not make sense for the police to be smashing it all up creating a hazard.
After telling that lie, another question was asked: "Why did police start pushing protesters back using tear gas, smoke, and holding lines before the curfews began at 9:00?"
Fischer made some excuse that police "used their judgement and that includes teargas being deployed." Basically, his response to the question was because that is what police decided to do. A non-answer.
Later, Fischer was asked why two black members of the Kentucky general assembly, Charles Booker, who is running for Mitch McConnel's senate seat, and Attica Scott, representative of KY house district 41.
He responded stating that they don't want any peaceful protesters to be tear gassed. Despite this claim, police did fire tear gas on peaceful protesters both Friday and Saturday. This displays that police are ignoring orders from elected officials.
That question was followed by one asking why police are using pepper balls and tear gas without warning, which Fischer dodged, then another question was asked about why police are telling press and media that they are illegally breaking curfew, even though it does not apply to them.
Fischer responded that police have been notified and directed to leave the press alone. This not only shows that police have no accountability to our elected officials, but they are also actively targeting the media.
Examples of police targeting the media have been abundant. On Friday night, an LMPD officer pointed his weapon at a WAVE 3 news reporter and her cameraman and fired pepper balls on them. A CNN reporter was arrested live on air in Minneapolis. MSNBC's Ali Velshi recounted police firing on the group of protesters he accompanied with tear gas and rubber bullets, despite no provocation from protesters. When Velshi yelled to police that they were members of the media, they responded, "We don't care." Just after 7:00 PM last night, WFPL reporter Stephanie Wolf reported her and her colleagues having been shoved to the ground by police as they were being shot with pepper balls. Ryan Van Velzer, another WFPL reporter, reported similar actions.
Why are police targeting the media? There could be two reasons. The first one, which seems most apparent, is police do not want to have their violent and illegal use of force recorded or reported on. The second is the growing hostilities against media, largely from the right-wing. Police officers who sympathize with these hostilities let such beliefs seep into their policework. Many of these encounters reported by the media include reporting on police provoking peaceful protesters.
Here is an account one protester posted on reddit of the tactics that police are actively using to box in peaceful protesters and target them with tear gas. This tweet from KY state senator Charles Booker shows police firing tear gas upon the group he was with, as was mentioned in the Fischer press conference. More footage posted on twitter by a protester shows police forming a line trying to herd peaceful protesters away from the area hours before curfew.
The state is mounting a full scale attack on the citizens of Louisville. An outstanding member of the community, Breonna Taylor, was murdered in her sleep, and her murderers walk free. If Fischer and the police truly were concerned about peace, they would arrest the officers involved. Instead, officials have caved to the outsized influence of police and related organizations like the FOP. The closest thing to a legitimate response they have shown is a civilian review board on which police have far too much representation. That was merely an act of theatre. The healing process will not begin until Breonna Taylor's murderers are arrested and charged. That is it.
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