Young African American leaders consider how to move Louisville forward

Young African American leaders consider how to move Louisville forward

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On Tuesday, Louisville entered day six of protests as thousands continue to call for change and move the city forward. While protesters chanted Breonna Taylor and David McAtee’s names, 25-year-old James “KJ” Abrams spoke his mind on how to make progress.

“This right here, I love this," Abrams said. “This is peaceful.”

Abrams said he works a youth mentor for the Chestnut Street YMCA, working with and talking to young black children every day. He said in these times of civil unrest, conversations with young people have never been more important.

“Our generation needs to talk to the youth about pushing forward as well," Abrams said. "At least somebody can come up and start these conversations, you know? I don’t want these conversations to happen after a murder, after a killing or after a riot.”

A few years younger than Abrams, and no less wiser, 18-year-old Imani Smith and 20-year-old Haley Brents said they’re having tough conversations every day. They work for 502Con, a group that tries to prevent youth violence in the city.

“We need justice," Smith said. There’s a lot of things in our system that needs to be fixed.”

They believe there needs to be both short-term and long-term fixes, beginning with firing Jon Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison, the three Louisville Metro police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death. Brents said the long-term solutions include taking taxpayer dollars from LMPD, and redistributing them to organizations that help black people.

“There’s so many other policies, so many other organizations that directly benefit people, people of color, that would rebuild and rebuild one safety, trust and community," Brents said.

To see those dollars, these leaders believe Louisville needs more black people in positions of power, pushing for political change on a day to day basis and not just when someone is killed.

“A white man might not physically understand what I’m going through as a black man and vice versa, but if we come together and have these sit-down conversations, then I believe progress can be made," Abrams said.

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