Protester training: Grassroots group converges on Louisville amid Breonna Taylor demonstrations

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 6:56 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Led by its founder, a national protest group is in Louisville this week to support the movement in support of Breonna Taylor.

Linda Sarsour, the founder of Until Freedom, said the organization came to Louisville to bolster protesters’ collective call for police reform.

“We are here to amplify and supplement the work already happening by bringing national attention and making Louisville ground zero for the conversation on police brutality,” Sarsour said.

Taylor, a 26-year-old former EMT, was shot dead when LMPD narcotics officers served a warrant at her home back in March. One of the three officers who fired their weapons that night has been fired. None has been criminally charged.

Until Freedom organized protests in support of Eric Garner, who died at the hands of NYPD officers in 2014, as well as demonstrations of other victims of police brutality. The group also planned the largest organized protest -- the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., which drew nearly 500,000 people in 2017.

Sarsour said Until Freedom is focusing on Louisville because while there is movement in other ongoing police brutality cases elsewhere, she said there’s been far less progress in the Taylor case.

“Our direct action is about capacity,” Sarsour said. “It’s about showing what people are willing to risk in order to get justice.”

Tuesday’s gathering wasn’t the usual rally or protests. It was synchronized, organized, and coordinated. People had to register to participate. Until Freedom organizers know and keep track of participants. Actions are day-long, the specifics of which are unknown until they happen, and it all starts with protest training.

Kenneth Allen said early Tuesday that he didn’t know what was in store, but came from Indianapolis to join the movement.

”I think the time is now for actions, and we’re beyond talk,” he said. “It’s time now for some actions and convictions.”

Another major organization -- Black Lives Matter Greater New York -- came to support Louisville and shed light on what it calls misinformation of the term “protesters.” Its president, Nupol Kiazolu, also traveled from New York.

“It’s important to note there are people who come into our demonstrations with ulterior motives,” Kiazolu said. “Not everyone at a BLM demonstration is a part of Black Lives Matter.”

With more than two decades of experience organizing against racial and criminal injustice and working through the ideologies of Dr. Martin Luther King, Until Freedom members said Louisville won’t rest until there’s justice for Taylor.

”The people in power are the ones that need to do their jobs,” Sarsour said. “Not the people; the people have done everything they can.”

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