LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville's new Civilian Review and Accountability Board is taking shape after a series of confirmation votes by Metro Council on Thursday. While nine of the nominees were approved quickly and with little scrutiny, two candidates faced doubt from some council members before they were ultimately confirmed in back-to-back 15-10 votes.
Last week, council Republicans revealed past Facebook posts by nominees Stachelle Bussey and Antonio Taylor that some council members characterized as anti-police.
Bussey is a minister and leader of a local nonprofit that helps the needy, the Hope Buss. Taylor is a bus driver with Jefferson County Public Schools and a radio host, who volunteers in several ways.
Weeks ago, the mayor's office nominated both to serve on the new civilian review board, which will influence police policies and review alleged misconduct.
"Just like the officers who serve this community, their decisions will lead to either a better community or larger divisions," argued Councilman Anthony Piagentini, R-19, during the Thursday meeting. "We have every reason to be concerned over the objectivity of the two appointments being voted on this evening. They haven't just made statements of political or philosophical disagreement. They have expressed their bias against police."
In a past Facebook post, Bussey wrote, “I hate the police,” but in a Tuesday interview with WDRB News said those words, by themselves, don’t capture the context of the entire post, which was a broader essay that questioned how criminals could be held accountable without police.
"They focused on four words of probably a 400-word post," Bussey said Tuesday. "If we don't believe that these systems work for us, then what are we going to do to literally help our community?”
Meanwhile, Taylor’s post, which likened the Louisville Metro Police Department to the devil, was posted on the day of the 2020 Kentucky Derby, when the department was delayed in protecting protesters in Jefferson Square Park from counter-protesters.
"Many people could have died on that day, including myself," Taylor explained. "Those posts express a people that have been ignored. It's our language."
Tuesday, he pointed out other posts where he wished an interim LMPD chief well and another where he wrote that he was praying for LMPD officers during the May 28th riot.
"To say that we're anti-police, to say that we can't be unbiased, it's leading with a false narrative," Taylor said.
"Can you be objective?" WDRB News asked the two. "Can you call balls and strikes if you're on this civilian review board?"
"You can be objective and critical of a system at the same time," Taylor answered.
"Can I have an opinion? Yeah," Bussey added. "But can I be objective? Absolutely."
However, in the Thursday meeting, Piagentini and others were not convinced. All seven council Republicans voted against the nominations of Bussey and Taylor. Three Democrats — Mark Fox, D-13; Cindi Fowler, D-14; and Amy Holton Stewart, D-25 — did too.
But, after a speech by Jessica Green, D-1, the majority of council Democrats voted to accept the two nominations and appoint Bussey and Taylor to the board.
"Yes, there were posts that were made. Yet who amongst us wants to be reduced to any singular or even five social media concepts? I know that I don't want to be," Green said. "A job in law enforcement is not a protected class, and the same way that people can say, 'I hate lawyers,' or, 'I hate Metro Council members,' it is okay for people to speak about their experiences with law enforcement that are not positive."
LMPD's union, River City FOP Lodge 614, is not pleased by the votes.
In a statement, a lodge spokesperson said the approval votes of Bussey and Taylor immediately strip the board of its credibility "and makes it impossible for recommendations coming from this board to be given any real consideration by the administration or the community."
"It is the job of Louisville’s elected leaders and their appointed staff to review and oversee police policies and procedures and to hold the police department and its officers accountable for their actions. There has never been a need for a civilian review board. However, since our elected officials decided it prudent to form the (Civilian Review and Accountability Board), the FOP hoped there would be some legitimacy to the board after inception," the lodge wrote. "There is not."
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