A woman in Louisville captured a harrowing look at how policing is done in her city.

Johnetta Carr had just gotten off work and was waiting for her ride on the night of Saturday, August 26th, when she noticed a man in a red shirt holding another man at gunpoint. Responding quickly, she unplugged her phone from its charger and recorded the ensuing events:

A man wearing a red shirt held another man wearing a black shirt at gunpoint while repeatedly accusing him of stealing merchandise from his store in Louisville, Kentucky.

All the while, the man in the black shirt kept patting his pockets down while reiterating calmly to his captor that he didn’t take anything from the store. A friend accompanying the victim took off his purple shorts and shirt to prove to the gun wielding man that they didn’t steal anything.  

The pair of friends kept telling the store owner that they would pay him $5 for whatever he thought they stole. Even Carr, who captured the video of the incident, offered to pay the man money he felt was owed to him. In response, the man with the gun said: “Fuck the money.”  

I reached out to Carr over social media to learn more about what happened that night.

These are her words:

“I cried with the man in the purple shorts. He just said he was sick of it. ‘We didn’t even do anything.’ I felt his hurt and pain. I could tell it was real. When the police came, the first words out of his friend’s mouth [the man in the black shirt held at gunpoint] was: ‘Calm down, the police will shoot us.’ It hurt my heart to be put in a young black man’s thoughts for that second knowing that they have to live in constant fear because their reality is that they have to be scared of being killed due to their skin color which is something they can’t control. I have known about the racial tensions in America but when you see it and experience it with your own eyes it’s something different. When we offered to pay the man [in the red shirt holding the men at gun point] and he said: ‘Fuck the money.’ I knew it was deeper than $5. It was pure hatred in his heart.” -Johnetta Carr

Carr informed me that multiple people on the scene had called the police to seek help. Many bystanders provided 911 operators a description of the store owner pointing his gun at the man wearing black.

Carr told me that 4 police officers arrived on the scene and instead of addressing the man in the red with a gun; they directly approached the man in black. One of the police officers had a weapon drawn upon arriving at the scene before asking any questions.

When questioning witnesses, Carr relayed that the police officers were rude. No charges were pressed or arrests made. No justice was served.  

Mayor Greg Fischer’s Complicit Support of Police Brutality  

This isn’t the first or last time something like this is going to happen in Louisville because there’s a systemic problem with how policing is done in the United States of America.

The FBI has investigated and found that police departments all over the country have been infiltrated by white supremacists which doesn’t come as a surprise since the policing system in America was created to protect property and at one point that meant returning runaway slaves to their masters.

Between 2005 and 2014, LMPD officers shot their weapons a total of 59 times attempting to shoot at 61 different people since during two of the incidents involved two individuals being shot at by police. According to the Courier Journal, half of those shot at were black men.

Eighteen of the fifty-nine shootings resulted in a fatality.

In June of 2015 in an open letter from the Louisville Fraternal Order of the Police, Sgt. Dave Mutchler, the author of the letter, threatened local activists for speaking out against the death of Deng Manyoun, an African immigrant who was killed by a LMPD police officer. Mayor of Louisville Greg Fischer’s response was lackluster stating that he would not “incite anger and distrust between the police and the community.”

During the Louisville and Charlottesville Solidarity Rally and March on August 13th, peaceful demonstrators were met by police cars, unmarked swat, two paddy wagons and, eventually, menacing police officers with batons.  

Fischer’s response was not to condemn the use of batons or threats of arrest by police officers but to support the escalation of force by stating:

“Officers are trained to use a baton in the event that a horizontal police barricade is required in situations like this. I appreciate, though, that the batons prompted feelings of fear and mistrust among many of the marchers, their families and friends, as well as some who saw the images later.” -Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Fischer maintains the status quo of ever increasing police brutality in the United States by continuing to give outrageous amounts of tax dollars to the Louisville Metro Police Department further militarizing the police force in Louisville.  

Fischer budgeted to give the LMPD $182 million for this year, an over 10% increase from years past.  

Fischer budgeted to give $4 million to the LMPD for new vehicles and equipment and bragged that his budget would allocate 80% of all new revenue to employ more police and corrections officers.The Louisville Metro Police Department will be adding forty-four new officers.

Conversely, homicide and overdose rates continue to rise in Louisville and Kentucky has one of the highest incarceration rates in the entire world.

What People Can Do As Citizens

When I asked Carr if she wanted to share anything else about her experience, she told me this:

“I just want everyone to know I did what I would have wanted someone else to do if it were one of my family members in that situation.” -Johnetta Carr

In short, if you see an outright injustice, do something about it.

Start by becoming more involved in the community by volunteering, holding local community members and public officials accountable, attending city council meetings and participating in local government to start changing the current systems in place.  All of these can help us achieve a better system of policing in America.

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Let’s engage.

Correction: an earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the incident in the video took place on Monday, August 28th.

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