LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As Churchill Downs prepares to run the 146th Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in September for the first time ever, the city is bracing for several planned protests outside the track.
Several groups that say they plan to protest are calling for the cancellation of the Derby, after 100 days of demonstrations over the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by LMPD officers during a drug raid in March.
Until Freedom, the social justice group that recently moved its operations to Louisville, held a news conference behind fences set up along Central Avenue on Friday, repeating the phrase "No Justice, No Derby," and calling for the arrest of the officers involved in the fatal drug raid. Local pastors, along with members of the Justice and Freedom Coalition joined them to say they plan to protest outside Churchill Downs on Derby Day, saying the race shouldn't be run while the case remains undecided.
Tamika Mallory, co-founder of Until Freedom, called out what she said was "serious hypocrisy" on the part of Metro Louisville for holding the 146th Kentucky Derby, "so that horses can run for the entertainment of the rich and famous. Meanwhile, the body and blood of Breonna Taylor is on your hands," she said.
"There should be no Derby in this city right now," said Mysonne Linen, another co-founder of the group. "The only thing that should be happening in this city right now is the arrest of the cops that killed Breonna Taylor."
Group leaders called on Louisville residents to come join them at South Central Park at 4:30 p.m. to join them in the protests, which they say will be non-violent -- but not peaceful.
The NFAC (Not F---- Around Coalition), an armed militia that was in Louisville a few weeks ago, is also expected join the protests. And LMPD says it has been in contact with counter protesters who announced plans to stage a rally at Cox Park on Saturday.
Outside the track, LMPD says police will "funnel" demonstrators with opposing viewpoints into specific areas along Central Avenue to try and prevent confrontations. Kentucky State Police troopers and Kentucky National Guard will be assisting LMPD in providing security --- which police pointed out happens every year at Derby, after Tim Findley, pastor of Kingdom Fellowship, criticized the placement of armored vehicles on Central Avenue during Thursday's news conference.
"The pattern is meeting peaceful protesters with over-militarization, with provocation, with continued stoking of fear," he said.
LMPD Deputy Chief LaVita Chavous later clarified that the vehicles Findley referenced were not tanks, but armored vehicles that she said are positioned there every year. By 8:30 a.m. Saturday, there were around six armored vehicles being moved into place as police began blocking traffic at Central Avenue and Taylor Blvd.
Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD leaders have said the city respects the rights of the groups to protest, but promised to arrest anyone blocking traffic, vandalizing property or breaking the law in other ways.
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