, Staff Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky.(FinalCall.com)–Protesters were back in front of the Louisville Police Dept. on Christmas Day, despite being arrested two days earlier for similar activities.
The ongoing protests are in response to the Dec. 5, 2002 police shooting of a handcuffed Black man 11 times because he allegedly threatened a police detective with a box-cutter knife. The incident occurred in James Taylor’s one-room apartment, but details of why the police were there in the first place remain sketchy. Police said four men in the apartment were drinking and smoking crack cocaine. Police detective Mike O’Neil allegedly shot Mr. Taylor, 50.
According to protest organizer Rev. Louis Coleman, director of the Justice Resource Center, Mr. Taylor was the sixth victim of a police shooting since 1999.
Rev. Coleman, who was one of those arrested Dec. 23, told The Final Call, “The five hours in jail were well worth it. We want justice for James Taylor, not another police cover-up.”
On Dec. 16, emotions overflowed during a town hall meeting called by Nation of Islam Minister Jerald Muhammad, where the goal was to bring people together to create dialogue and decide what to do next.
“We showed that people from different backgrounds could come together in unity and discuss solutions,” Min. Muhammad said of the meeting held in the Urban League community room, the first of many meetings, he said. Min. Muhammad said over 200 people attended and that people were turned away.
“We were able to pull together a diverse panel that included Whites to discuss the issues, and we hope to build on that momentum at our next meeting,” Min. Muhammad said. “They (police) are not going to get away with this one. We want to try to come up with an agenda.”
“Fruit of Islam Captain Edward Muhammad told me that emotions were running high in the community, and that involvement of the Nation of Islam was necessary. I thought of the town hall meetings because they were very successful back in 2000 when we were organizing support for the Million Family March,” Min. Muhammad explained.
Min. Muhammad’s calling of the town hall meetings let people know that the police brutality issue transcends religion and race, Rev. Coleman said. “When Min. Muhammad opened the meeting by saying that we were not called together to blame the victim, I knew we would have a great meeting. What Min. Muhammad did was right on time,” Rev. Coleman stressed.
According to Capt. Muhammad, 34, the community was looking for a leadership that could help, not only in mounting protests, but to move a process of resolution forward.
Rev. Coleman said he is calling for a federal investigation into the shooting of Mr. Taylor.
The next protest demonstration is planned for Jan. 4, 2003, according to Rev. Coleman, followed by a Jan. 6 follow-up town hall meeting, Min. Muhammad added.