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Louisville Community Leader On Protests: 'People Want To See Something Different'

Demonstrators gather outside City Hall in Louisville, Ky., on May 29 to protest of police violence.
Brett Carlsen
Getty Images
Demonstrators gather outside City Hall in Louisville, Ky., on May 29 to protest of police violence.

Louisville, Ky., has been a center of protests after police shot and killed Breonna Taylor in March. A lot has happened in the city since then.

Last Thursday night, seven people were shot and injured during protests calling for justice for Taylor, George Floyd and other unarmed black Americans killed recently.

Sadiqa Reynolds — a former judge and president of the Louisville Urban League — was there.

On Monday, tensions ran high after law enforcement killed a beloved local barbecue chef named David McAtee.

Whenpolice prevented the removal of his body for more than 12 hours, Sadiqa Reynolds was there, too.

She has been playing something of a coach role as protests over police violence erupt across her city and the nation. On Tuesday, she was handing out masks and helping teenagers navigate interviews with the media.

"I'm proud of these young people for doing what they need to do, and I'm proud of those in my generation, the 40-somethings ... that are here to protect them," she told All Things Considered. "I'm just honored to be here, and to hear them sing, to watch their pain, to see them get a little tearful when they're trying to talk."

Reynolds talks with NPR about her city and the fight against police violence.

Interview Highlights

On how the protests are about more than just police violence

It is always about more than police violence. If you think about the jobs that we have been pushed down and relegated to, if you think about these folks that we are now celebrating as essential workers and how much money they actually make.

Look at the justice system and how disproportionately we are touched by the justice system, how over-policed our communities are. We know our police department can do better because we've seen them do better — they do better in white communities. They had a man shoot two people in broad daylight at Kroger and they walked him into jail. But in our community, we keep ending up in body bags.

These protests erupting across the country are changing the way the criminal justice system has to respond. So while I understand it is a terrible inconvenience for some people that there would be protesters out in the streets, but imagine day after day, over and over, suffering and watching people be hurt and die.

On the positive impact of the anti-police violence protests

The positive part of the protest, first of all, is the peacefulness of it because the vast majority of these protests have been very peaceful. Peace doesn't really make the news all the time, though, so people have to understand that. If you're not there, you might not know — you might not get the sense of that.

The other thing is that the crowds are very diverse. I mean, we have so many people you just think if these folks could be in charge of the world, the world would be different. I mean, there is a movement in our country. People want to see something different. So that is so encouraging for me.

Listen to the full interview at the audio link above.

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Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.