LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On Monday, several banners paying homage to Breonna Taylor were hung in downtown Louisville. On Wednesday, the president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police said he sent a letter to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Public Safety Director Amy Hess to remove them.
“[Officers] felt it was, you know, kind of a slap in the face directly against them," Ryan Nichols said. “Those banners, and being put up where they were and the Black Lives Matter banner that’s supporting a cause and an issue... officers had a problem with that.”
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Nichols told WAVE 3 News because some of the banners say “Black Lives Matter,” he believes they are in violation of Louisville’s Street Banner Program Standards and Guidelines, which prevent banners from being used to “advertise individual businesses, sell merchandise products or services or to promote organizations or issues within the message.”
“I think there’s been murals done in different places, different memorials of such," Nichols said. "The Street Banner Program is not the way to do that, and when they attach the Black Lives Matter organization to the banner it’s in direct violation with the guidelines. So, just follow the guidelines.”
The banners were created and placed downtown thanks to a group of community activists and artists, including Nicole Hayden and Margaret Demaree.
Hayden told WAVE 3 News the group originally planned to create a “Black Lives Matter” or Breonna Taylor mural on the street, but the city denied their request. They then came up with the idea for the banners, which the Louisville Downtown Partnership signed off on.
On Wednesday, Executive Director Rebecca Matheny told WAVE 3 News in a statement:
“Approached by a local group of black activists and artists, Louisville Downtown Partnership facilitated the installation of the 16 banner exhibit, created by black artists to celebrate this cultural moment and highlight the importance of black lives. Our organization manages the installation of banners throughout the Central Business District throughout the year. The project was funded by private donations at a cost of approximately $5,000.”
Hayden and Demaree also talked to WAVE 3 News and said they were surprised to hear officers wanted the banners removed. They believe the banners display several positive messages that will help the city heal.
“We must heal with [police]," Hayden said. "So we want to let them know that we know we want justice for Breonna Taylor, but we have to live in this city as well. So, how can we start that? How can we start the healing if not here, right across from the police station and right across from a place where people have been protesting for 100 and something days?”
“I think if the police, who are part of the community, and they are leaders of the community if we came together and sat down and talked about our feelings, their feelings and bring those together because we all are a melting pot, I think everybody would understand and we could come and get along,” Demaree said.
Nichols told WAVE 3 News as of Wednesday afternoon, he had not heard back from city officials but would continue to pursue the matter until he got an answer, be it positive or negative. He said he has also considered legal options if city leaders do not respond.
“It almost feels like the city is thinking the police have done something wrong,” Nichols said. “No investigation is complete yet. The facts aren’t completely out and known and the officers feel that the police, in fact, acted within their scope of authority of the law and, in fact, did not do anything wrong.”
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