LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville's Chiefs of Community Building and of Metro Police maintain that officers' observations, security camera video, and social media traffic make clear that race played no role in Saturday night's roving violence that began at Waterfront Park.
"There were victims that were black, and we had white victims," Sadiqa Reynolds told reporters Tuesday.
"I think it was some kids who were engaged in criminal behavior and they were victimizing anybody that they came across," LMPD Chief Steve Conrad.
Social media postings and witness interviews lead investigators to believe that many teenagers had gathered in a tribute to Me'Quale Offutt, the 14-year-old who died two days after being stabbed during a confrontation aboard a TARC bus. Anthony Allen, 44, has been charged with Offutt's murder.
"Somewhere, things went bad," said Conrad.
Metro police logged 32 calls for service and ten victims; seven white men, one white woman, and two black teenagers including a 13-year-old girl robbed of her shoes. The charges include four assaults, five robberies, and six acts of vandalism. Investigators consider all of them crimes of opportunity and irresponsibility.
"An 11-year-old, up that late at night, that far from home is unacceptable," Reynolds said.
"We're taking this personal," said Conrad. "We're going to hold people accountable for their behaviors.
"I don't want to beat up on the parents," said Reynolds. "I'm trying to save your children. That is what these people are here for."
The comments came at a news conference following a meeting of the Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods team, called to develop responses to the mob actions.
"First is beefing up the police presence in downtown and at Waterfront Park," said Mayor Greg Fischer. "The way most of these ‘flash-incidents' are organized is through social media. So not only is our police presence beefed up but I'm also asking the community: If you see any issues on social media that you think can lead to large groups of people coming together, let us know.
"What is important is to have that presence there (at Waterfront Park)," said Conrad. "If they're causing problems, if they're being disorderly - then yes, I think an order to move along is appropriate. But I think telling somebody to move along when they're standing in a public place with a legal reason to do so may not be something we can legally do."
But members of Man Up, a mentoring group targeting at-risk teenagers, suggest that the police and community response focuses too much on police and surveillance cameras.
"Put money in people, invest in people," Man Up member DJ Bedrock explained.
Fellow mentor Martin Smith believes job training is key "so that they can qualify for these better jobs coming through the West End. There's a lot being done, but there's a lot more to be done."
"When a young man, young male or woman sees a man or father or figure out there showing some leadership that sets the tone," Man Up organizer MeShorn Daniels said.
The Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods Coalition will hold community meetings Thursday afternoon separated by gender. Men and boys will meet at UofL's Yearlings Club at 4:30 p.m. Women and girls will gather at the Louisville Urban League headquarters.
"It's easy to be a critic from the couch," said Fischer. "And if you are one of those, we expect you to get off the couch and help. Otherwise, please keep your thoughts to yourself because we've got too much work to do."
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