‘Heads up, phones out’: Independent journalists, supporters march on LMPD headquarters

Demonstrations continue for the 44th night in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Supporters of Louisville’s independent journalists and “live streamers” came together Friday at Jefferson Square Park. Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) organized the gathering called “Heads Up, Phones Out” in solidarity with those broadcasting recent protests on social media.

“Without the bravery and commitment of independent journalists, upstander [sic] witnesses and media, our movement would often have no eyes and no truth,” SURJ volunteer Anice Chenault said. “No evidence of the misconduct, no proof of the crime committed by police violence.”

Independent journalist, radio host and Chea Chea Media owner Chea K. tells WAVE 3 the support “feels great.”

“When you are independent media it’s a different walk. We truly have a different walk. We’re our own companies, our own brands, our own bosses. People look to us for a different vibe. We better bring the truth or they’ll come for us personally,” Chea said. “So to see this support today, it is great because people have to understand the power of independent media. Independent media, independent thinking ... that’s what I’m all about.”

At the SURJ event, live streamers were invited to share their experiences covering protests. At least four live streamers, including Chea K., have already been arrested by LMPD. Despite recent discussions between police and protesters, independent journalists believe police are still targeting them.

“When it comes to LMPD, yes, I feel hunted. I feel like right now standing here I have a target on my back. The snipers that are on the roof all the time, I feel like … at any given moment” Chea said. “That’s not a good feeling, when I’m out here just trying to show the truth, amplify the truth and do my job.

Live streamers and their supporters later marched to LMPD headquarters chanting the names “Breonna Taylor” and “David McAtee” as well as “tell the truth” and “heads up, phones out.” While there, Presbyterian minister Dwain Lee addressed the crowd and encouraged White allies to show up for racial justice.

“I have to show up and show support and solidarity, I have to speak out. To me, showing up for racial justice or showing up, standing up for any kind of social justice, standing up for honesty and transparency … that’s an important way I express my own religious faith,” Lee said.

Independent journalist and radio host Antonio Taylor tells WAVE 3 that live streamers are simply asking for respect. 

“We as independent media, we are here and we won’t be silenced. We would like for them to keep their cameras on and we’ll keep our cameras on, that way, that we can get to the truth of what’s really going on,” Taylor said. “Live streamers we want to be respected, we’re out here using our constitutional right that’s ours, our first amendment. We just want to be respected and we don’t want to be targeted.”

LMPD previously said they have no issue with anyone live streaming, but many of those live streaming are also protesting. They said anyone protesting who fails to follow police orders to disperse may be arrested.

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