Fischer interview - 8-5-20

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After five shootings in less than 10 hours left three people dead in Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer sat down with WDRB's Chris Sutter Wednesday to discuss what's next for the city. 

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SUTTER: Mayor, what do you make of last night, and how do we fix this? 

MAYOR FISCHER: It was very troubling. We've had, these last two months now, we've seen a significant increase in shootings and homicides taking place in our community. We're seeing more and more young people involved as well, some as young as 14 years old. 

We've seen a significant jump in carjackings as well, almost fourfold. So just encourage people to be aware of their surroundings when they're getting out and about. And parents, please talk to your kids. We're seeing more and more of these beefs that are starting on social media that are pouring out into the streets. We're seeing drive-by shootings that are taking place. We're not going to be able to arrest our way out of this problem. If people know whose doing this, we need their help also: 574-LMPD. 

SUTTER: And you mentioned this, but I want to bring it up again. There have been 58 carjackings from June 1 through yesterday. That is a 400 percent increase. So what's being done specifically to stop carjackings?

MAYOR FISCHER: Well, people need to be aware of their surroundings, obviously. So if they see something going on with their vehicle, either back off -- if somebody's coming up to approach you that you don't know, again, back off of that as well. This is significant. Four times -- I mentioned and you mentioned it as well. So we have to ask for awareness while LMPD does what they can do. 

SUTTER: We're all anxiously awaiting a decision on the Breonna Taylor case, and a lot of people are wondering, especially on Facebook, what kind of warning you're going to get when it's ready to be revealed. Are we talking 24 hours, 48 hours? Are you willing to share that?

FISCHER: Not quite sure yet. We have to talk to the attorney general's office about that. There will be some type of advance notice that we'll be given. But let's focus then, too, on how the community responds. We've got a variety of ways the folks can respond. We choose that, on what we're going to be doing as a community.

I think the important thing is to take the energy from the streets, and really what justice for Breonna looks like is building a better country, building a better city of racial equity and opportunity. And that's the type of things we've been working on for years. We're going to continue to work on that as well. We've got the case, and Breonna's family deserves those answers. The city deserves those answers. We've got to take that energy and put it into making it better. A more equitable city, a more equitable country. 

SUTTER: As you know, people tried to light the Hall of Justice on fire and were blocking fire crews from putting out a trash fire the other night. So as we inch closer to the AG's findings in the Breonna Taylor case, what is the plan to keep the city safe, and also should people be worried? 

MAYOR FISCHER: Clearly, LMPD has a plan, along with our state partners and regional partners as well, in Kentucky, and they'll be ready to do that. Again, we want to encourage people that this doesn't have to be violent. Any kind of violence or breaking the law will not be tolerated. Peaceful protests will be fully endorsed, we protect that.

But we want the majority of Louisville -- if anybody is getting out of line, what happens sometimes is agitators can infiltrate into peaceful protests. And then all of a sudden, things go south. So we just can't have that in our city. Peaceful protests we welcome. 

SUTTER: As I'm sure you're well aware, Until Freedom, the group that showed up on Attorney General Daniel Cameron's front lawn, says it will move to Louisville. Are you concerned about that? 

MAYOR FISCHER: Anybody showing up here to do peaceful protests we support that. This is an important time in the history of our country. Our city, because of Breonna's tragedy, has become a focal point of that. It gives us an opportunity to show what we're doing as a city to advance forward with equity. And also speak to that on a national platform as well.

So I understand that some people are uncomfortable by all this that's taking place. We're at a very unusual time in the history of our city and our country, between the protests, between COVID. So I would just ask people to lean into this as best they can and accept the ambiguity of it, but keep pushing for equity and more opportunity for everybody. 

SUTTER: What if they show up on your front lawn, Mayor, what then?

MAYOR FISCHER: Oh, I've had protesters on my lawn already. So as long as people are coming to peacefully protest and they do their thing, and off they go, you know that's part of the American experiment, part of First Amendment rights. 

SUTTER: Talk a little bit more about the protesters that showed up at your house. What happened, and what was the situation there?

MAYOR FISCHER: It was an early morning visit. It was probably I don't know a month or so ago, and they were there just to make a point about Breonna Taylor's case. And it was probably, I don't know, maybe a 10-15 minute type of visit. They made their case, they left, and it was a peaceful demonstration. 

SUTTER: And a one-time only thing?

MAYOR FISCHER: There's been people on the front street at the beginning of the protests, too, some seven weeks or so ago by now. So people have a right to move about, and peacefully protest. And we certainly hope they continue to focus on the peaceful part of it. 

SUTTER: At the same time, that is your home, and people showing up in your front lawn or on your street, in a sense that has to bother you on some level, does it not?

MAYOR FISCHER: Well I've got to look at the big picture in my job. I happen to be the Mayor right now, and with that comes some attention obviously. and at times like this, when people are trying to get more attention to what their causes are, they're going to visit people like myself. So that's just part of the bigger picture of being a public official right now. So if that helps lead us to a more just and equitable city where everybody is engaged with that, taking the energy from the protests, and voting and policy change, then I'm happy to be part of the solution. 

SUTTER: I want to move on real quickly. The governor mentioned yesterday that Churchill Downs may need to change its plans for the fans when it comes to the Derby, do you agree with that?

MAYOR FISCHER: Well COVID is still out here, obviously. As a city, we've gone from a positivity rate of low six percents to 7.4 percent today. We do not want to have happen here what we've seen happen in Florida, Arizona and Georgia as well. So we've got to be very careful when large groups of people get together. So the city is in charge of the compliance part of that. This is a very critical aspect for us, this time period right now. The mask order has been placed for 10 or 11 days right now and people seem to be doing better. So we need to see these positive numbers coming down. 

SUTTER: At the same time, the economic impact is going to hurt, and we're already hurting here in Louisville. 

MAYOR FISCHER: Big time. I mean that's the problem, right? How do you keep an economy going in the middle of a pandemic, a once in a generation pandemic. So all we can do as city government is help with our grant programs, our loan programs that we're doing. Because nobody had this in their business plan at the beginning of the year. So the goal right now -- it sounds sad for a business person to say this -- is just how can you survive this pandemic to get to the other side so the economy can get back up. It's really important that Washington, DC does their part right now. And the U.S. Senate and the House is debating back and forth right now on what the next relief package is. They need to wrap that up quickly so they can get relief to the citizens, local governments and state governments as well so we can all keep operating and deliver basic city services that our citizens deserve. 

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