Dozens of officers from the Louisville, Kentucky’s Police Department walked out on Democrat Mayor Greg Fischer Wednesday while he was trying to address them at a roll call.
Courier Journal reports dozens of Louisville Metro Police officers walked out on Mayor Greg Fischer at a roll call Wednesday in a sign of protest that the Fraternal Order of Police president said reflects officers’ frustration with his leadership.
A video obtained by The Courier Journal shows Fischer standing in the middle of a large room as streams of officers and detectives file out wordlessly. FOP President Ryan Nichols, who was not present, said the move was an unplanned reaction to Fischer’s appearance.
“They feel completely unsupported and disrespected by this administration,” Nichols said. “They feel whatever he was going to say would have been nothing more than lip service, and he does not care about them at all.”
Frustrations have been mounting in the police department, where tensions are high among officers who have been responding to demonstrations since May 28. Some of those protests have led to violence.
Police have deployed pepper bullets and tear gas to disperse demonstrations, which they’ve said have included items of concern and potential weapons against officers such as bricks, fireworks, leaf blowers, Molotov cocktails, shields and jars.
Maj. David Allen, who oversees LMPD’s Administrative Services Division, said Tuesday that jars have been thrown with “gasoline in them, urine (and) a mixture with vomit in it.” On Wednesday, interim Chief Robert Schroeder said a SWAT vehicle had taken fire during overnight protests.
Protesters, too, have been frustrated with police and city leadership for their response to the mass gatherings — questioning why they have been broken up before curfew and why the National Guard was summoned.
David McAtee, a barbecue shop owner, in western Louisville was fatally shot by Louisville police or National Guard troops after police say he fired first early Monday morning. Two officers and two Guard troops fired about 18 rounds, with one round striking McAtee in the chest.
His death has further exacerbated tensions between police and protesters demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, an unarmed black woman who was shot and killed by officers in her Louisville apartment on March 13.
Many officers, Nichols said, don’t feel Fischer’s team has been supporting law enforcement amid protests that have been “directed and focused against police.”
“We’re deep into multiple days of rioting and violence … and they’re working in treacherous conditions,” Nichols said. “And this is the first opportunity that the leader of our city and this police department has given them to address them?”
A member of LMPD who was at the roll call said people walked away from the mayor when he came over to talk, adding that they “didn’t want to be patronized.”
Fischer responded Thursday evening, saying in a statement: “The men and women of LMPD are putting in long hours. They are suffering insults and assaults from people they are working to protect. They are worried for their families and this city. They are frustrated, and some of them expressed that frustration today. I absolutely respect that. That doesn’t change my appreciation of the work they are doing, as I’ve expressed time and again. They have a very difficult job. I hope our residents will embrace our police officers as guardians — I know that’s how the vast, vast majority view their role.”
Police tensions with Fischer came to a head on Wednesday, after Fischer called for a “top-to-bottom” review of the department, which sparked a sharp rebuke from the FOP’s Twitter account before tweets were later deleted.
— Ben Tobin (@TobinBen) June 3, 2020