The View From Louisville

Tired of tear gas, the protesters have been coming every day to the intersection of Breckenridge Lane and Shelbyville Road, and they try to get everyone to leave at 8 p.m. each night.

On the night of the first protest in Louisville on May 28, Kayla Meisner and her boyfriend watched everything unfold downtown on the news. She said, for a long time, they talked about taking to the streets to demand change. But it’s also been scary.

“Then we go [to the protests] Friday with the same mentality, this is something we’re fighting for, but we’re scared of this,” said Meisner, who is Black and works at the University of Louisville.

Meisner thought the protests felt peaceful on Friday, but said things had “a totally different energy” when it got dark.

“We ended up getting hurt and tear gassed,” she said. “I had a pepper [ball] blow up on my leg.”

She said that was the impetus for working with some friends to organize protests in St. Matthews, an affluent eastern suburb of Louisville.

“That was the whole point of coming here, is where’s somewhere police probably won’t tear gas, and it’s probably in the suburban white neighborhood,” Meisner said.

They’ve been coming to the intersection of Breckenridge Lane and Shelbyville Road since Sunday, and try to get everyone to leave at 8 p.m. each night to give them plenty of time to get home before the mayor’s 9 p.m. curfew. The plan is to return to this spot every night from 4 – 8 p.m., taking Saturdays off, she said.

Wednesday night, people packed each street corner of the intersection, holding up signs, chanting the names of “Breonna Taylor” and “David McAtee,” two Louisvillians shot and killed by law enforcement, or “Black Lives Matter,” all against the backdrop of people honking their horns as they drive by.

At each protest, they pass out pamphlets with a list of demands and actions. The demands include abolishing no-knock warrants, that the mayor and Metro Council address police use of force, more transparency with law enforcement and firing and revoking the pensions of the officers who killed Taylor and McAtee.

“Some people love the idea, some people hate it,” she said. “I’m not a professional activist, but I feel like we’re doing something really good out here. It feels good.”

Feels good, she explained, because the turnout has been good, in her opinion.

Elizabeth Walker Burns lives nearby and decided to check the area out after having participated in protests downtown. She said she’s been coming out each night to simply ask for justice.

“Just trying to make sure that we get the word out that it’s not just about ‘all lives matter,’” she said. “We get that all lives do matter, but really what it is, in order for all lives to matter… our government and our law enforcement need to understand this is a systemic issue.”

She too wanted to go to a protest without the fear of tear gas and stinging pepper balls.

“Just looking for us to peacefully protest so that individuals are aware that this is a bigger issue than just what has happened in our community,” she said.

At one point, the protesters left the street corners to walk down Shelbyville Road. Police cars followed behind with their sirens blaring and, over their PAs, telling people to get out of the road and onto the sidewalk. St. Matthews Police Chief Barry Wilkenson said one officer fired off some pepper balls “into the asphalt” when this happened.

“We’re trying to set the tone that you can’t do anything unlawful,” he said, and at that time they were blocking the road.

Wilkenson said there was one other incident where an officer “displayed” a non-lethal weapon.

As this happened, Ashton Warrington pulled himself up onto the base of a street light, waving everyone back to their original spot.

Warrington believes it’s important to protest in St. Matthews.

“We feel like if there’s going to be change and there’s going to be reform it needs to be out amongst the people who have some sort of push or money or power to say that this is what needs to change,” he said.

He says seeing so many faces out tonight, of different ages and different skin tones, is a beautiful thing.

“We need this multitude of life, race, color and age, like whether you’re 8 years old or 65 years old, you should be able to see that what is happening to Black Americans is not right,” Warrington said.

Warrington added that they really want to keep things “chill.”

Much of the crowd did leave at 8 p.m. One protester called out to them as they departed: “Same time, same place tomorrow.”

Listen to the Louisville Public Media story

To Avoid Tear Gas, Danger, Louisville Protesters Take To The Suburbs

Talk with us about this ... and anything else on your mind ... on Sunday, June 7
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14 users have voted.


smart civil actions
focusing more frustrated folks
toward the need for change

keep up the good fight!

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Cassiodorus's picture

convince city councils to give up curfews. At any rate, that's what I read happened in Seattle.

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"There is no good future for the US if neoliberalism, and neoliberal elites, continue to rule." -- Ian Welsh

wendy davis's picture

another view from louisville on May 29: the ruling class is seriously flipped out that these protests show the solidarity of people all colors, and many ages.

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bondibox's picture

This was a C&P from NPR

I'm a little bit torn over the appropriate level of action to be taken. After this protest, protesters marched through the Hikes Point neighborhood at around midnight, brandishing weapons and imploring participation. I read about a first hand encounter from a homeowner who spoke to a participant for about a half hour. he was told "You're missing all the action!"

Last night the protest moved to the Mayor's house. Photos I saw were well over a hundred cars honking their horns, again at midnight. Most of those cars were so far away the mayor probably couldn't even hear them. Surely not as well as his neighbors could.

I'm not sure how effective it is to harass the people who live in these neighborhoods. How long until the mob surrounds my home and demands that my disabled ass joins with them?

Things are as fucked up here in the 'Ville as any place else. Last weekend a march down Baxter Avenue in the Highlands had the police shooting out the windows of the Starbucks. Every window hit dead center with pepper balls. Downtown, the cops are using 40mm "foam" rounds.

IDK how well the events in Louisville have been reported here. With both of the aforementioned civilian murders, the police body cams had been turned off.

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bondibox's picture

During a protest in St. Matthews, a Louisville pastor says he was met with excessive force from police officers.

According to Pastor Tim Findley Jr. from The Kingdom Fellowship Life Center he was peacefully protesting in St. Matthews Monday afternoon, when an officer approached him, and screamed in his face.

He was told to stand in a different spot, and when he didn't, he says the officer screamed "arrest him," and took him to the ground.

Findley says when he was in the back of the police car, they found out he was a pastor and they apologized and let him go.

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