IMAGES | Crowds gather in downtown Louisville to protest over immigration laws
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A crowd of about 250 people gathered around 8 a.m. Saturday morning in downtown Louisville over the debate about the nation's immigration laws.
Louisville Metro Police were ready for hundreds, maybe even thousands more protesters and counter protesters, to fill 7th Street. They had officers on rooftops, helicopters, horse patrol, and dozens of officers on the ground.
Protesters set up outside of Louisville's ICE office all week protesting the Trump administration's immigration policies. Police prepared for a counter protest from the Three Percenters group and others aligned with it on Saturday.
LMPD's goal was to keep the two sides separated with physical barriers like bike racks and construction trucks. There was no word of any arrests as of early Saturday afternoon.
Occupy ICE protesters entered the area at 7th Street and Broadway. Counter protesters entered from 7th and Chestnut Streets. Reporters estimated the Occupy crowd at about 400-500 people; the Three Percenters and others had about 50-75.
The protests broke up after noon. But for almost three hours before, the groups stood peacefully, yelling chants back and forth.
"It's important that we provide a place where people can share their opinions, and hopefully we can keep them safe in the process," said LMPD Chief Steve Conrad on Friday.
LMPD cancelled days off for officers because of the event.
Conrad said his officers were not to prohibit the right to exercise free speech, however violence or the destruction of property would be stopped.
Jesús Ibañez, an Occupy ICE protester, said the group was committed to keeping the demonstration peaceful.
“We are here to abolish ICE and remind people what our mission is, to abolish ICE and protect the undocumented community,” Ibañez said.
Three Percenters protester, Sam Stone, said his group also did not want violence and he was demonstrating because he wants immigration laws enforced.
“They want to let all the illegals come in. Let our borders down and all that and basically what Three Percenters are for, is upholding our constitution,” Stone said.
One of the most contentious moments was when protesters with the Three Percenters argued with people wearing a KKK logo, demanding that they leave.
Those with the KKK were eventually escorted out by police.
Occupy ICE organizers say they will camp outside the office until the Trump administration abolishes ICE.
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