Louisville, Sunday, May 31

A firsthand account of increased police violence against protests in Louisville on Sunday.


Black Lives Matter Louisville hosted a protest at 3 p.m. at the KFC Yum! Center, which the police did not antagonize. A coalition of local activist groups planned a protest at 4 p.m., which began at the courthouse and marched to the Muhammad Ali Center for a rally and then back to the courthouse.

At the courthouse, well before curfew, riot cops and the National Guard began antagonizing protesters and attacking us with flash-bang grenades, green tear gas, pepper balls, and some other smoking projectiles I’ve never seen before. The mayor later claimed that they attacked because they believed the protesters had leaf blowers full of bleach to use against the cops. The crowd quickly dispersed under a barrage of attacks; riot cops and the National Guard seemed to be everywhere.

I regrouped briefly before joining a large group at 1st St. and Broadway, which was quickly attacked and split again. I stayed with the group that went east, which was basically leaderless and ended up on a small unlit street. I did the whitest thing possible and begged them to get back to Broadway where there were witnesses, and I ended up fleeing as the police closed in from all directions.

I circled back, pleading with some young soldiers to be allowed through and eventually biking past them, to find a van being filled with zip-tied young people. I identified myself as an advanced practice registered nurse and offered medical aid but was aggressively threatened with arrest. I also snagged a rubber bullet from the street to contradict the media’s claims that they have not been used.

At this point, there was another group heading west on Broadway and a closer group in the Highlands. By the time I got to the Highlands 5 to 10 minutes later, the crowd had been dispersed but were allegedly being hunted down by police. At this point, it was so dangerous to remain on the streets that I headed home.

Later in the night, police allege that they were returning fire when riot cops and the National Guard fired into a small crowd of people chanting Black Lives Matter and murdered a man on West Broadway, an underserved, majority black part of town.

Mandy Bell is a member of Louisville DSA.