On Saturday, police in Louisville, Kentucky were seen confiscating or destroying water and other supplies from protesters, apparently during a peaceful demonstration. A viral video taken by a protester shows plainclothes officers in an unmarked truck speeding past pedestrians to get to the supplies, then hurriedly destroying them. Protesters are now demanding that these cops be held accountable for destroying their property and impeding their right to a peaceful protest.
The video was taken at Jefferson Square in Louisville just after 7:30 p.m., according to a report by The Courier-Journal. At the time, several hundred protesters had gathered in the area, blocking Jefferson and Sixth streets, but only for a peaceful demonstration. They had gathered bottled water to share amongst themselves at the foot of a statue in the square, as well as milk, which is commonly believed to relieve the pain of pepper spray.
The unmarked truck pulled up quickly, narrowly missing a journalist and stopping diagonally on the sidewalk. Two masked men jumped out and began tossing some supplies into the bed of the truck while smashing others on the ground to spill their contents. It was reportedly confirmed that they were plainclothes police officers, and their actions "appeared to be organized by law enforcement."
Protesters cried out: "That's our water! We are being peaceful!" Yet late on Saturday night in a press conference, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer claimed that police had found flammable material among the water and milk. He said that there were "mason jars full of flammable materials... along with other materials he could not yet identify that could have harmed protesters as well as police."
Critics have pushed back against this claim, saying that the video evidence contradicts it. Officers could be seen throwing the supplies and tossing them against the ground, yet there was no sound of breaking or clinking glass.
The police pulled the same move with another cache of water and supplies at the other end of Jefferson Square, this time with t-shirts reading "POLICE" on. A Louisville resident who witnessed the incident told reporters: "I watched them stabbing water bottles. They're supposed to help us not hurt us. I just don't get it."
Like the rest of the U.S., Louisville's protests were spurred by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday. However, Louisville is still grieving for a local woman named Breonna Taylor as well, who was shot and killed by the Louisville Metro Police Department in March. So far, no officers have been charged for Taylor's killing.