LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A national bus tour making a stop in Louisville became the scene of an altercation between a group of people downtown and Louisville Metro Police officers. One officer ended up being hit in the head with a ball.
The Hoop Bus Coast to Coast campaign is sponsored by American Natural Gas. Organizers travel city to city to set up in neighborhoods so people can gather together and play basketball. Hoop Bus driver and producer Joey Greenstein tells WAVE 3 News the bus came to Louisville with a deeper mission too: supporting protests for Breonna Taylor and getting out the vote.
“The whole point of the Hoop Bus is to spread love through basketball and I think we found a way to get involved in activism and be activists ourselves by combining sports and activism,” he said. “For us, this is a 24-hour protest.”
Monday, the bus tried to set up on West Liberty Street between South 5th and South 6th near Jefferson Square Park, blocking traffic as a group gathered in the area, LMPD spokesperson Elizabeth Ruoff confirmed.
Greenstein explained the bus was parked for more than an hour when LMPD Major James Cirillo told him he needed to move the bus. Tensions later rose as police and basketball players started shouting at each other, with players asking why they had to leave. Cirillo told them it was a safety concern.
Around 4 p.m., as officers tried to clear the roadway, several people “interfered” as one person was being arrested, leading to them also being taken into custody.
Greenstein was near the arrests when they began and watched them again on video.
“It looks like one of the officers wasn’t able to control his emotions, as he was being yelled out, he pushed a white male out of the way to get to a black male,” he said. “Something that I noticed right away, that seemed pretty targeted. In the video, it’s hard to hear what’s being said but whatever is said to that officer shouldn’t have triggered that response from that officer.”
In a video from #502Livestreamer Tara Bassett, an officer is seen being hit in the head with a basketball during the confrontation. Ruoff said two officers were minorly injured during the situation.
LMPD interim chief Yvette Gentry showed up later to talk to protesters at the park.
“In less than a month it’s going to be cold out here and people don’t have a place to lay their head. That’s the kind of stuff we need to be focused on,” she said. “And when my clock is ticking, I don’t want to be coming here, hearing about basketball rims when you can’t have a basketball rim in no park because of COVID right now. That’s just a battle that I don’t have time to fight.”
Four people ended up being arrested and charged with assault, menacing, harassment, and resisting arrest. One of those arrested was Rosie Henderson, known by many as Mama Rose. Henderson has been a frequent protester and caretaker at Jefferson Square Park for over 100 days and has never been arrested for protesting.
“She’s a lady that demands respect and commands respect. She’s been critical to this movement and the fact this happened to her is disgusting,” Henderson’s attorney, David Mour said.
In the video, at least one officer can be seen putting his hand over Henderson’s mouth before a group of officers pulled her to the ground. Mour said Henderson got out of jail Tuesday morning; by the evening she was back at Jefferson Square Park. She would not talk to WAVE 3 News on camera, but she was seen wearing a sling on her right arm.
“She’s going to the doctor, her shoulder and arm, she feels are injured when she was tackled to the ground by cement,” Mour said.
Mour hopes Henderson’s charges are dismissed but he may also file a PIU complaint and a lawsuit.
LMPD did not respond to our requests asking when body camera footage of the entire incident would be released.
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