City leadership takes questions from community about DOJ report

Leaders from the city, LMPD, River City FOP, and the NAACP shared a stage at the Frazier Museum Wednesday. They discussed the DOJ report and took questions from
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 11:28 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Leaders from the city, LMPD, River City FOP, and the NAACP shared a stage at the Frazier Museum on Wednesday.

They discussed the DOJ report and took questions from people.

Since Mayor Craig Greenberg took office, Metro leadership have stuck to the theme of trust, transparency and accountability.

Many people at the forum said they’re still waiting to see any of that.

”We are not here and we are not interested to be quite honest, and I feel very confident in saying this, in reforming this system,” Lyndon Pryor of the Louisville Urban League said. “It needs to be transformed.”

Much of the focus of the forum was who’s getting a seat at the table. Whether it be between the city and the DOJ with the consent decree, or during contract negotiations with the police union.

People at the meeting said the community needs a seat.

“We really, really insist and demand honestly that public participation be a priority in all of this,” Pryor said.

Pryor said without that, trust can’t be rebuilt and there can’t be true transparency or accountability.

“We keep talking about how there’s a few bad apples. But those apples are from a tree. So what’s wrong with the tree?” Dr. Raymond Burse of the NAACP said.

People who came up to ask questions, made it clear: they’re still hurt from experiences they’ve had with police.

“We were treated as enemies of the state,” activist Shameka Parrish-Wright said. “We have not seen accountability for those officers that treated us that way.”

LMPD chief Jackie Gwinn-VIllaroel talked about getting into the community and trying to rebuild trust.

“Tonight when I leave here, I’m going to 26th and Broadway because we had two murders that took place over there,” Gwinn-Villaroel said. “We’re going to be in the community and just be there for the people.”

It wasn’t met with a warm reception, however.

“You coming down to 26th street with your chaplains, that sounds real cute sis. That sounds real cute,” activist April Hearn said. “But don’t forget the last time y’all came down and hung out on 26th street, David McAtee died.”

“It’s a form of making sure that we are present and that you’re able to see some of the changes we’re trying to make in this city,” Gwinn-Villaroel said. “But if that’s not accepted, then I respect your feelings. I’m not going to argue, I accept that.”

“We don’t want performance,” someone in the crowd said.

“It’s not performance,” Gwinn-Villaroel replied back.

The forum had a few tense back and forth moments.

People demanded the names of officers involved in the DOJ report, answers about specific cases and more.

After the meeting, Mayor Greenberg said these are the kinds of things that need to happen for chance to happen.

“We talk about rebuilding trust which is critically important,” Greenberg said. “I believe that happens through conversations, uncomfortable conversations, and by listening and learning from each other. And from there, we can build relationships, increase trust, and improve the way our city delivers our services.”

Some people in the audience were unhappy with the time and place of the forum. They said it wasn’t optimal for many in the community.

The speakers said this was just one of many they plan to have all over the city.