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Calling For An End To ‘White Silence,’ Protesters Kneel Outside Louisville Police Headquarters

Ryan Van Velzer

A crowd of more than 100 protesters gathered outside Louisville Metro Police Department headquarters in downtown Louisville on Thursday to read the names of people they say have been unjustly killed by police officers.

Demonstrators with Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice (LSURJ) said the purpose of the protest was to call for an end to “white silence,” which is the idea that white people who do not actively promote racial justice in their own communities are complicit in systemic racism.

“It is just the morally right thing to do, regardless of our skin color, the melanin content of our skin,” said Dwain Lee, a white Presbyterian minister. “The other thing is we are the majority ethnic group in the United States and without our voices, change will never happen.”

The vigil began with a trumpeter playing the spiritual “Down by the Riverside,” the chorus of which is “I ain’t gonna study war no more.” Following the song, protesters read the names of those killed by police, including the names of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March by LMPD, and David McAtee, who was killed by the National Guard while working with LMPD.

After reading the names of those who have died, demonstrators moved into the street outside police headquarters and sat or knelt in silence in solidarity with George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

Despite being outside police headquarters, police had no visible presence at the demonstration and did not come out of the building to meet with the crowd.

The protest concluded with a march to Jefferson Square Park, which protesters called “Breonna Square.” The largely white crowd held signs calling for an “end to white silence,” and chanted “defund the police” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Christy Washington stood by the square as protesters arrived. Washington, who is Black, said she loves to see the solidarity from white people and only wished the crowd was larger.

“We need more white people to speak out,” she said.

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