Monday, January 15, 2001

Crowd of 350 people protest shooting by Louisville police

By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — Several hundred protesters marched from an inner-city neighborhood to police headquarters Sunday to denounce the shooting death of a black man by police and demand a wider investigation.

        The procession, bundled up in the chill air, stretched a half-block and was followed by a long line of cars honking in support. The marchers were led by an 18-year-old man — the same age as shooting victim Clifford Lewis Jr. — carrying a picture of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

        As police cars escorted the marchers through the streets, protesters expressed bitterness toward police, but the march was peaceful.

        “The people are hurting,” said the Rev. Louis Coleman, a civil-rights leader and march organizer. “When leadership does not lead, the people have to go to the streets.”

        An estimated 350 people marched about three miles through city streets to protest the shooting of Mr. Lewis. Dozens of sympathizers waited outside police headquarters downtown to greet the marchers.

        Mr. Lewis became the latest of several black youths killed in clashes with Louisville police in recent years, and his death further strained relations between police and the black community.

        The Rev. Mr. Coleman urged a wider investigation of the shooting by the U.S. attorney's office, the state attorney general and the FBI.

        “This latest incident only compounds the wrongs that the African-American community has had to suffer from the city administration and the group of officers in this department that have no regard for the civil rights of others,” several civil-rights leaders said in a letter to the state and federal agencies requesting them to investigate.

        City Alderwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, who participated in the march, said the problem goes beyond race to affect the entire community. She promised that the protest would get the attention of city leaders.

        “All of your voices will be heard in city hall,” she said.

        Louisville police are conducting an investigation and have said the FBI is doing its own investigation of the shooting.

        Mr. Lewis was stopped by police Tuesday while driving a van owned by a cousin who was wanted on charges of assaulting a police officer.

        Police said Mr. Lewis backed up the van, pinning an officer against another vehicle. Another officer fired on Mr. Lewis, who was unarmed.

        The officer who opened fire has been placed on administrative leave while police investigate.

        Protesters chanted “No Justice, No Peace,” as they marched through the streets Sunday. Some held signs condemning police actions and claiming that blacks are targeted by police.

        Fidel Gray, who marched with her daughter and four grandchildren, condemned police but said the black community must also take greater responsibility to stop violence.


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