LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Protesters at Jefferson Square Park in Louisville hope things stay peaceful with an opposing group of protesters Saturday, protesters who claim they are going to liberate the city from violence and destruction.
On social media, a group of people claims they will be armed on Saturday, hoping to destroy tests and push protesters out of Jefferson Square Park to stop what they say is the destruction of the city. Their comments have raised tensions for those currently occupying the downtown park.
“One month ago there was, there was a night of, you know, vandalism, looting, rioting, whatever you want to call it. There was one night that happened on Fourth Street Live, I stood the middle of it and live-streamed it to 2,000 people,” Jason Downey explained to WAVE 3 News on Friday.
Downey has more than 100 hours of live stream videos from his time spent with protesters in the last several weeks. He wants to show what really happening on the ground through his lens.
”I would be lying if I said there’s been no more, you know, small vandalism or maybe a window broken in here and there, because it has happened,” he said, “but sort of the wide-scale, I guess, bedlam that we saw on that night has not happened since that day.”
The night Downey is referring to is May 29, the same night a WAVE 3 News reporter and photographer were caught on camera being hit with pepper balls fired by an officer as protesters and rioters swarmed downtown Louisville. Since that day nearly a month ago, there have been isolated confrontations between small groups of activists and traffic, but no widespread destruction and looting.
Downey said there have been many rumors and misinformation swirling around about what is happening downtown. Recently, he said he was in the caravan that traveled from the waterfront in Louisville to Prospect a week ago. He claims a post made by LMPD Major Micah Scheu began to circulate spreading false information and painting a much different picture from what Downey experienced.
”Don’t take my word for it. Find me on Facebook. Jason Downey. It’s public, you can view that three-hour stream, and you can see that from me in the middle of this caravan. It was nothing but loud, which was exactly what we’re supposed to be,” Downey said.
Prospect Police said there were shots fired into the air that night, but there wasn’t any looting or property damage and the impact on traffic was brief. LMPD said they received reports of some shoplifting at a gas station and people driving through yards and redirecting traffic. However, nothing happened to the extent of what was being shared in the officer’s post, which LMPD is now investigating.
”There’s a whole lot of people that sit at home and through whatever influence, you know, make a lot of assumptions on a small article or a 30-second clip,” Downey said.
Screenshots from discussions in the Facebook group American Freedom Fighters show that many people do not want damage in Louisville that happened a month ago to happen again. Many are vowing to block off properties to let police push out members of ANTIFA.
Downey says his videos show counter-protesters don’t have a clear idea of the current situation in Louisville.
”I think if a lot of people that are coming down here heavily armed to take their city back would just spend five minutes and see what this looks like with our own eyes, they find that there’s no need for them to come,” Downey said.
LMPD told WAVE 3 News they won’t provide any specifics on what groups are represented in Louisville, like ANTIFA. They also said they will not allow destructive or violent behavior from any of the protestors Saturday.