This production is part of WFPL News’ year-long project The Next Louisville: Race, Ethnicity and Culture.
Across the country, tensions are rising between police and the communities they serve. Fatal police shootings of unarmed black men have sparked protests and calls for change. At the center of the movement is Black Lives Matter, an organized group of activists with chapters in cities across the nation.
In Louisville, the head of the local police union wrote a letter criticizing local activists for what he called their sensationalized approach in addressing relations between law enforcement and communities.
Black Lives Matter activists responded, calling for his removal and demanding changes within the department.
We wanted to get an understanding of what each side wants and what they want the other side to hear. So we invited them in for a conversation, featuring FOP President David Mutchler, Black Lives Matter activist Tara Pruitt, and Metro Councilman David James. WFPL’s Jake Ryan moderates.
You can listen to the conversation in the player above.
Tara Pruitt: We’re not anti-police. We’re anti-police brutality. And we just want accountability. If you’re on your job and you don’t do your job properly, they’re not just gonna say, ‘oh that’s OK,’ slap you on the back and keep working. If you continue to do the wrong thing, you’re going to get in trouble, you’re going to have consequences. And it should be the same way with police officers.
David James: If I am an African American officer — I am — and all the sudden, I get stuck in a 100% or 90% Caucasian part of town and you tell me to go walk down the street and knock on somebody’s door and say hi, depending on my life experiences, that may not be a very comfortable situation. Or if I’m a Caucasian officer and I’ve never been around very many African Americans and you tell me to go walk down Dumesnil and knock on some people’s doors, that may not be a comfortable situation, and that may not have a good outcome.
David Mutchler: I think that movements like Black Lives Matter — and I’ve looked at their website and looked at the founders, some of the women who founded it — and they have all of these things that they purport that they support, but I haven’t seen any of that. What I see is hatred toward the police.
The conversation lasted almost 80 minutes, and we had to cut it down to around 50 for broadcast. Because we know our listeners are passionate about the issue, we’re sharing the full, unedited version of the conversation here.
This package was edited and produced by Jake Ryan and Laura Ellis.