Assaults, Vandalism and Violence at Waterfront Park Have Locals Concerned for Their Safety

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This past weekend on Saturday night, March 22, there were nearly 17 instances of assault, robbery, and vandalism that began at Waterfront Park. These instances sent at least six people to the hospital, and families left the Waterfront in fear for their safety and their lives. You can read the article about the incident from The Courier Journal here if you missed it.

A group of nearly 200 kids, whose exact ages or ethnicities have not been reported, met at the Waterfront Park after the gathering was planned on social media. These kids acted as a group initially, and then dispersed throughout the city once the police arrived, making their way to Bader’s Food Mart on First and Jefferson streets, through Third and Chestnut streets, and attacking Louisvillians at Fifth/Sixth and Broadway. Once at Bader’s, they made their way in the store and attempted to attack the owners and rob the store.

The violence began at about 7 p.m. on Saturday night and didn’t abate until nearly 9:45 p.m. An elderly gentlemen was reportedly attacked by the group of teenagers at Waterfront Park, in daylight, while bystanders stood and watched without intervention. According to reports, his wife and granddaughters witnessed the incident. An article was posted on the Courier Journal's website late Tuesday night, which showed video footage of the group of teenagers running through the streets. Some were moving quickly and in various directions while jumping on vehicles and walking through the streets and parking lots. This footage can be viewed here.

Yesterday it was reported that the group of teenagers met at the Waterfront Park to honor the 14-year-old boy that was stabbed on the city bus early Sunday morning on March 16. You can read about the upsetting incident here. These teenagers met to peacefully remember the young teenager, but the gathering quickly became rowdy.

The question everyone wants answered is: how could 200 young kids gather at Waterfront park with no police response? 

Louisville Metro Police Department's Chief Conrad answered these concerns, saying, “I don’t have the answer to that question. If you’ve been to Waterfront Park you know it is not unusual to have over 1,000 people. [We] didn’t know they were there to cause problems.” Once the officers were notified and the problems got worse, officers did take notice and began to try to alleviate the situation.

When Mayor Fischer was asked if this issue of violence could slow down the momentum of planned downtown development, he replied, “This was an extraordinarily unusual incident. Nothing like this happened in decades”.

But it has.

An article posted in the Examiner nearly three years ago describes a situation that sounds oddly familiar. In 2011, Thomas McAdam wrote about The Dirty Little Secret Down at Louisville’s Waterfront Park, which reports a chillingly familiar set of incidents from almost exactly three years ago, on April 7, 2011. You can read the article hereThat night in 2011, according to the Examiner's article, a mob of 200 "Black teenagers" had to be dispersed from Waterfront Park, and quickly moved South, attacking innocent bystanders leaving Slugger Field. 

After the incident in 2011, City Hall announced that the LMPD would be increasing patrols and riding around on ATVs to keep peace at the Waterfront Park. On Monday, March 24th of 2014, Chief Conrad said that the commitment they are making after this past weekend's incident is “to have an increased presence around the park and around the Downtown area. That increased presence will help get that level of comfort back [around those areas.] These commitments sound oddly familiar and they are making the same promise they made 3 years ago. Will they stick by this commitment now?

Many people are anticipating this increase in patrol and many are taking action themselves. A Facebook page called Louisvillians for a 24 hr police substation at the big 4 bridge” is available for the community to like and share in hopes that the police patrol will be extended at the Big Four Bridge, where issues of assault occurred on Saturday. Check out and "Like" this Facebook page here.

This issue needs to be resolved. Not an issue of race or class, the problem is now one of keeping our community safe and assured that assault or harm is not dealt to those visiting Waterfront Park. 

About Alexis Messmer
Lover of hip hop music, coffee, writing, sneakers, and most importantly, Louisville.
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