Activists shut down traffic near LMPD headquarters in protest of David Mutchler's FOP letter
Frustration and tensions met in the middle of the road as protesters gathered at the corner of 7th Street and Jefferson Street. At first, police tried to get protesters out of the street -- but eventually the order came to let them stand.
"It's ridiculous -- people have to get to work," said Kara Green, a motorist who was blocked by the protest. "I'm all for civil rights and everything else, but this is ridiculous. Come on."
"You got to stand up for what you want," said Mary Stuart Price, who was also blocked by the protest. "It's hard to get folks' attention now-a-days, and this looks like a good way to do it."
The rally lasted only 20 minutes.
"We are this city, and without us, you have no taxpayers and no one to protect," said one protester. "So we speak for ourselves. Since Mutchler did us the great favor of speaking for LMPD. No justice, no peace."
WDRB has learned that some of the demonstrators were from other cities, and some were from out-of-state.
But leaders had locked the doors.
"We had gotten information that there was a plan potentially to come in and occupy headquarters," said LMPD Chief Steve Conrad. "Some of the other intelligence we had gathered said that there was a potential for violence."
The protest was peaceful, though some question whether it was effective.
"This unnecessarily turned some friends into enemies and we don't need that," said Dr. Ricky Jones, professor and chair of Pan-African Studies at U of L.
"There is no need to escalate to 10 when there is no proof that the police chief, mayor, rank and file officers support the stance of an individual who may have just gone off the reservation and did something improper," Jones added.
Mutchler wrote a letter to the public last week, days after an LMPD officer killed a man who came at him with a flag pole.
In the letter, he said those who use deadly force against police will have deadly force used against them, adding that, "we WILL stop the threat to us, our fellow officers, or the citizens we serve."
Chief Conrad says he met with Mutchler Monday to discuss the letter.
"I spent time with him walking through the letter and pointing out what I believe the problems were and I think that was a useful conversation," Conrad said. "I think he walked away with a better understanding of my concerns and some of the concerns from people in the community."
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer wrote to 1,200 member police force Monday saying, "While I disagree with some of Mutchler's words, I want to be absolutely clear in my support of LMPD, and my understanding of the even more difficult task of policing in the post-Ferguson world."
Critics say Mutchler's letter is threatening, unnecessarily aggressive and divisive.
"If I would have known in advance, like, that this person would have taken offense to the way that I wrote this, or this group would have taken offense, ya know, I might have found a way to get the point across in a different manner that maybe wouldn't have offended them," Mutchler told WDRB News Monday.
He says he's getting even more support than before about the letter.
But Conrad says he's heard from officers who feel differently.
"It wasn't the message as much as it was the way the message was delivered," Conrad said.
Copyright 2015 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.