Racial justice tensions overshadow Louisville mayor’s race | New Policies
PIPER HUDSPETH BLACKBURN, Associated Press/America Reporting
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — On Valentine’s Day, a man appeared in the doorway of a Louisville campaign office and shot mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg. He was untouched – a bullet grazed his sweater – but some of the tensions that still linger in this town have flared up again.
A social justice activist has been charged with attempted shooting and remains in federal custody. And with the primaries ending Tuesday in Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville’s mayoral race has transcended local politics.
Greenberg, a businessman, is one of eight Democratic candidates on Tuesday’s ballot. The race was shaped by a spike in gun violence and the fallout from the March 2020 death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman shot dead in her apartment in a botched police raid. Then there are still issues with the ongoing pandemic and the prospect that Louisville could face a $70 million budget shortfall by 2024.
Just weeks after the shooting at the Greenberg campaign office, as campaign signs began to appear on city lawns, a jury acquitted the only officer criminally charged in Taylor’s raid. Many activists have expressed the feeling that the city’s justice system has failed Taylor and her family. They pledged to take their cause to the polls.
Taylor’s death helped spark massive protests of racial injustice in the summer of 2020, as well as the deaths of George Floyd and other black people in encounters with police. In his hometown of Louisville, protests continued for weeks.
“We demand truth, we demand transparency,” Bianca Austin, Taylor’s aunt, said at a March memorial for her niece’s death. “We will continue to demand answers and we will continue to keep the pressure on the Louisville Metro Police Department, which continues to fail us and our community.”
In April, Greenberg maintained a fundraising lead over his opponents, and various local unions, church leaders and subway board members endorsed him. He said the shooting only reinforced his understanding of the need to quell gun violence in the city.
Other candidates are also linked to the turmoil following Taylor’s death. Local activist Shameka Parrish-Wright, who is black, and the Reverend Tim Findley Jr., a black pastor of a downtown Louisville church, were active participants in the 2020 protests. They both pledged to do racial equity a priority if elected.
Federal prosecutors have alleged Quintez Brown, 22, wanted to kill Greenberg to prevent him from winning the mayoral race, citing Brown’s internet search history, text messages and online postings at the time of the shooting. from February.
Brown, a former Courier Journal columnist, was charged with “interfering with a federally protected right, and using and discharging a firearm in connection with a crime of violence by shooting at and attempting to kill a candidate for elected office.
If convicted of all federal charges, Brown faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison in addition to any sentence he receives for state charges of attempted murder and free endangerment. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
As the mayoral race dragged on, new evidence also revealed links to the Republican side of the race. Search records showed Brown had scoured the Internet to find Republican candidate Bill Dieruf’s campaign office on the day of the shooting. Dieruf is the mayor of Jeffersontown, a local suburb, and is widely considered a frontrunner for the Republican nomination for mayor of Louisville.
However, the winner of the Democratic primary will be supported in November by the advantage that the Democrats greatly outnumber the Republicans in Louisville.
Whoever the eventual winner is, it is likely that the events of the past two years will follow the winner in power. The Louisville Police Department is still under federal investigation, and many townspeople want to see improvements in public safety.
Hudspeth Blackburn is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.
Copyright 2022 The Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.