Mayor discourages concealed carry at Thunder, pushes accountability
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After rumors of possible violence at this weekend's Thunder Over Louisville, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer explained why more than just teens must be held accountable for any violence -- including the recent mayhem at downtown.
Mayor Fischer is also discouraging anyone from carrying weapons, legally or otherwise, to Thunder Over Louisville Saturday.
He first explained his positions in a three-page letter to citizens dated today but released late Friday night. At a "Talk to Greg" forum at Valley High School Monday, Fischer answered WDRB's questions about the accountability and police security provisions organized since late March.
"We see the kids do the behavior. But the question is: Who is behind the kid, and how are they accountable and how are they involved with that kid's life as well?" Fischer asked.
Fischer explained why his letter to the community underlines the phrase "parents and guardians."
He sees them also as accountable for the actions of those in the teen mob that swarmed through Waterfront Park and downtown March 22.
"Most of these kids were middle school kids. The question is, where is the parent? Where is the guardian? These kids may not have traditional family structures, but there is an adult in their lives, somewhere," Fischer said.
The owners of Bader's Food Mart were among people who said the "mob" violence has occurred regularly downtown, not just as captured in the Bader's surveillance video March 22. Others offered anecdotal evidence saying the same, though metro police statistics and crime reports did not agree. The claims differ. However, Fischer's letter calls the recent event "random violence."
"The nature of this kind of teen episode of a couple of weeks ago, is just 'assaulting people that they didn't know,' and that's what's made it so unusual."
The letter outlines plans for summer jobs and community centers to open to give wayward teens things to do, but those plans come well after this Saturday's Thunder Over Louisville.
Police talked Monday of assigning more than 1100 armed officers downtown to keep the peace, in addition to watching dozens of video camera feeds.
The revamped police response gets its biggest test on Saturday. Residents got a preview Saturday as the metro police helicopter criss-crossed downtown in the afternoon and at night during several prominent activities. The chopper's search light was visible throughout its patrols over downtown after dark.
On social media, those with concealed-carry permits talk of attending Thunder with their weapons -- or even openly carrying a weapon. It's talk that has been steady online and on talk radio in the last 2 1/2 weeks.
"There's plenty of protection there. We just ask people to use common sense when they come down to Thunder," Fischer said.
WDRB News asked if the mayor would discourage people from carrying their weapons to Thunder.
"I don't think it's a good idea," Fischer said. "Obviously, they have a right to do that. But things can escalate when that takes place. There will be plenty of public safety personnel."
Police say they're always on alert for people with concealed weapons, permit or otherwise. They add that it's likely that people have brought weapons to Thunders in the past. However, they've rarely had a reason to talk publicly about it until now.
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