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Louisville police crack down on protest caravans

The Hill logo The Hill 8/9/2020 Aris Folley
a person holding a sign: Louisville police crack down on protest caravans © Getty Images Louisville police crack down on protest caravans

The Louisville Metro Police Department announced on Sunday that it will be clamping down on protest caravans as demonstrations have continued in the city over the past few months following the police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and other Black Americans.

In a series of tweets on Sunday afternoon, the department said it has determined that "protest caravans cannot continue as they have been," citing what it referred to as an "increase in aggressive behavior over the past week" and safety concerns.

"LMPD continues to balance the First Amendment right to protest with the public safety needs of the entire community. For nearly 75 days, Louisville residents have taken to the streets to express their desire for accountability and change," the office said.

"One of the primary ways of doing that has been to hold nightly caravans - both cars and foot marches - throughout the city. We have seen increasingly unsafe behavior, including an escalation in aggressive behavior over the past week or so," it continued.

As a result, starting on Sunday night, the department said all "pedestrians must stay out of the streets - staying on sidewalks and following all laws for pedestrian traffic" going forward, adding: "Cars and pedestrians will not be allowed to block intersections for any length of time."

"Participants who refuse to comply with any law or lawful order will be eligible for citation and/or arrest," the agency added.

According to the Courier-Journal, the night before the department's announcement, a dozen people were arrested and charged after police claimed protesters blocked roadways during a march and vandalized property.

A spokesperson for the office told the newspaper that "protesters, during their march, blocked roadways, surrounded vehicles that tried to avoid the protest, shot paintballs [at] passing motorists, destroyed property at 4th Street Live while it was occupied with patrons, set trash cans on fire, and then continued to Jefferson Square."

"Based off these actions, the assembly was deemed unlawful," he added.

The office claimed on Sunday that the caravans have continued to "pose serious safety risks for protestors and the public." Behavior the agency said it "regularly" sees in the caravans includes "reckless driving endangering the lives of others," "confrontations with other drivers who encounter the caravan," "blocking of intersections for periods of time" and "dangerous mingling of cars with pedestrians participating in the caravans."

The city has reportedly seen more than 2 1/2 months of continued protests following the police killing of Taylor, an unarmed 26-year-old Black EMT who was fatally shot in her apartment by police in Louisville earlier this year.

The months-long string of protests kicked off in late May, just days after the death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died at the age of 46 in Minneapolis after an officer was seen in viral footage kneeling on his neck for more than 8 minutes during an arrest.

The report comes as widespread protests against racism and police brutality have persisted nationwide following Floyd's death and the police killings of other Black Americans.

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