Mayor, LMPD Chief clarify protest charges

September 25, 2020

Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert Schroeder updated the public today on protests that occurred Thursday night, and urged demonstrators to protest peacefully and lawfully – or risk being subject to arrest.

“I am urging protesters and allies to use your power, your passion, energy and commitment to help shape the city we all want – a city of justice, a city of equity, a city of peace,” the Mayor said. “Everyone has a First Amendment right to protest peacefully and lawfully. But I want to stress that violence and destruction will not be tolerated. If you break windows, start fires, destroy property or attack anyone, including our officers, you will be arrested.”

Chief Schroeder offered these details from Thursday night:

Prior to the 9 p.m. curfew, dozens of protestors left Jefferson Square for a march, with some marchers soon causing property damage – including breaking glass at Jeff Ruby’s restaurant on 4th

At about 8:30 p.m., LMPD deemed the march as an unlawful assembly and began to stage to respond and break it up. Before that could happen, group members continued to march and cause damage at various locations – including TARC buses at Brook Street and tossing a flare into the Main Library, breaking windows and attempting to start a fire.

In relation to that destruction, several people were arrested near Fourth and York, and charged with unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and first-degree rioting. Dozens of other protestors made their way to the First Unitarian Church at 809 S. 4th

Because of damage being assessed at the library, police kept the area between the church and the library secured for a time. Once the library was cleared, people were able to leave the church.

In all, the Chief said, 26 arrests were made related to protests Thursday, with most being charged with unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and first-degree rioting.

He explained those terms during today’s briefing:

Rioting: Under state statute, anyone who is part of a group causing damage or riotous behavior is subject to the charge of rioting. The charge does not require an individual to have actually participated in a specific destructive act.

Unlawful assembly: Under state statute, an unlawful assembly represents a gathering or being present at an assembly of more than five people “for the purpose of engaging or preparing to engage” in a riot.

Curfew: A countywide curfew is in effect in Louisville from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. daily, until Monday morning. Mayor Fischer has encouraged people to begin heading home by 8 p.m. The curfew does not apply to people commuting to work, house of worship for services or seeking medical attention for themselves or others.

The Chief noted, however, that once a gathering is deemed an unlawful assembly, rules of the curfew no longer apply and everyone must disperse.

And Mayor Fischer noted that while most protesters continue to be peaceful and lawful, everyone should be aware that “if you are in a group where destructive and violent behavior is happening, you need to separate from the group, or you will be subject to arrest.”