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City leaders, downtown businesses prepared for weekend of protests

Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 6:51 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death nears, business owners in downtown Louisville and city leaders are preparing for a weekend’s worth of protests.

Louisville Metro Police announced several weekend road closures near Jefferson Square Park, from Market Street to Muhammad Ali Boulevard earlier this week,

Friday morning, Mayor Greg Fischer said the goal of the closures was to provide a “pedestrian plaza” for protesters, so that they can protest without the threat of vehicles on the road.

Fischer said city leaders have spoken to protest leaders ahead of the weekend, and are trying to ensure everyone can express their first amendment rights peacefully, while also preventing injury and the destruction of property.

“We’re prepared for the full square and areas to be involved from marches, whatever we want to do, whatever needs to be done,” Fischer said. “We’re going to accommodate First Amendment rights. We do not want to see any destruction of property, any hurt or injury to any people. So we want to work with everybody to make sure those outcomes are achieved.”

Downtown business owners are also prepared for what the weekend may bring.

George Timmering, owner of Bearno’s By the Bridge on 2nd Street, told WAVE 3 News he plans to keep his doors open all weekend, to welcome not just protesters, but also those who will be coming downtown for other conventions and gatherings.

“Downtown’s got to be welcoming to all the people that want to memorialize Breonna Taylor’s tragic death, and we welcome them,” Timmering said. “We hope everybody’s peaceful. And then we welcome, there’s a lot of activities and conventions in town. So, it’s going to be a busy weekend downtown.”

On 4th Street, Forest Ramsey said his shop, Art Eatables, will be open for the first time on a Saturday in a calendar year.

“We closed up the shop and we thought, ‘maybe it’ll be a few weeks. Maybe it’ll be a few months,’” Ramsey said. “Then it just kept going and going. But COVID has really rocked the downtown.”

Ramsey’s store was damaged when riots broke out on 4th Street during the last weekend in May.

He said he and his wife watched as rioters tried to smash the windows. Though it hurt to watch, he told WAVE 3 News the damage to his store pales in comparison to the city’s fight for social justice.

“I just put it in perspective that people were protesting something very real. They were protesting about an actual injustice, and if there was some consequential damage, I didn’t want it, but I wasn’t upset.”

Events are scheduled in Taylor’s memory throughout the weekend.

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