City leaders outline preparations for community observance of anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death
Mayor Greg Fischer, Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) Chief Erika Shields and Vincent James, the city’s Chief of Community Building, today outlined city preparations for events planned this weekend in observance of the one-year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s tragic death – and plans for a marker in Jefferson Square Park to recognize the tragedies of 2020, as well as the reforms those events initiated.
The Mayor said he believes the weekend events will be “a solemn remembrance of tragedies, a recognition of changes that those tragedies have brought and will bring, and a reminder of the work still ahead to build a city of equity and a police department working with the community to be the best in the nation.”
To create a walking plaza and ensure the safety of those planning to gather at Jefferson Square Park this weekend, Chief Shields said blocks adjacent to the park will be restricted to pedestrian traffic only, with no parking, from after morning rush hour on Friday March 12th through Sunday March 14th.
The streets affected are:
- Jefferson St from 5th St to 7th St
- Liberty St from 5th St to 7th St
- Cedar St from 6th St to 7th St
- Congress Alley from 6th St to 7th St
- Court Place from 5th St to 6th St
- 6th St from Market to Muhammad Ali
- 5th St from Market to Muhammad Ali
- Armory Place from Muhammad Ali to Liberty St
Anyone heading to the park is advised to rideshare, to cut down on traffic, and be prepared to walk a few blocks. Police will facilitate ADA access at Sixth and Market streets, and will work with residents, business owners and downtown employees to allow necessary access.
Some TARC routes will be impacted by the road closures and restrictions. Riders should check the TARC website for details.
“As I’ve shared with the protest leaders we’ve talked with, the goal is to allow a safe space for people to gather and express themselves in a peaceful, lawful way,” said Chief Shields.
Mayor Fischer urged those gathering this weekend to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, including masks and social distancing.
Marker at Jefferson Square Park
The marker is expected to be ready for installation, likely on the northeast corner of the park, later this Spring.
It will read:
2020 Racial Justice Protests
Built in 1978, Jefferson Square Park memorializes first responders killed in the line of duty. In 2020, it became a rallying place for those demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman tragically killed by Louisville Metro Police serving a search warrant. Protesters called this space “Injustice Square Park” and held demonstrations that drew global attention.
2020 Racial Justice Protests
Over 2,000 U.S. cities saw racial justice protests fueled by the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and others. Locally, these demonstrations prompted police reform and policy changes to improve racial equity in the city. Many here also mourned Louisvillians David McAtee and photographer Tyler Gerth, killed in incidents related to the protests.
“This marker will be a permanent reminder of the challenges we face, as a city and a nation, and the work we’re doing to move our city from tragedy to transformation,” said Chief Vincent James.
Next steps at Jefferson Square Park
Acknowledging the park’s significance “as a memorial to fallen first responders and sacred space for those seeking equity and justice,” Mayor Fischer noted the work being done to keep it safe and accessible for all residents.
Last month, the city worked with homeless advocates to move unsheltered people into more sustainable, safe housing and announced it would remain open under standard park rules, including a ban on tents, camping and fires, as well as a 6 a.m. opening and 11 p.m. closing.
After this weekend, the park will be cleaned daily, and permits for events there will be required as outlined under city ordinances. During the week of March 15, the city will work with the families to remove and store memorial items left in the park.
“When people come to see this park, where the local 2020 demonstrations were centered – prompting public safety reforms and a movement toward greater racial equity – we want them to come to a beautiful, safe and inviting space,” the Mayor said. “And given its historic role as a site to remember first responders who died in the line of duty, we have a real opportunity to create a space for unity, for broader understanding and compassion. That’s something we will only achieve by working together, and I am confident our city will rise to this moment.”