A peaceful march turned physical Saturday morning when a group of protesters confronted Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers during a march organized by the National Bar Association John Rowe Chapter.
Later, at a forum on race at Southland Christian Church, protesters chanted as Mayor Linda Gorton tried to speak, with some chanting “white silence is white violence” and “meet our demands.”
“Our future will be solid if we can solve this issue that we’re all trying to talk about,” Gorton said during the forum. “We’re talking about debriding a wound that goes back hundreds of years.”
Protesters also confronted Weathers during the panel discussion. They interrupted when he was asked a question, and they asked him to apologize for the altercation during the march. They also asked him to accept their demands for changes to the police collective bargaining agreement.
“You can yell at me, you can ask me to apologize, but I’m going to keep the course, and I’m going to keep true, and I’m going to fight for what’s right,” Weathers said. “I’m tired of people getting killed for no reason.”
Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers responded to protesters who chanted during a forum on race Saturday morning. “As a Black man, I’ve had to be quiet about some things,” Weathers said. “I’m not quiet now.” See what else he had to say. BY JEREMY CHISENHALL
The march started at the Lexington Police Department and was expected to include Weathers and Gorton, ending up at an event featuring a conversation on “Race, Reconciliation and Resolutions” at Southland. Weathers walked in the march, along with Sheriff Kathy Witt. Gorton did not march, but was on the panel at Southland.
Another group, led by Sarah Williams, joined the march to disrupt it. Members of that group said they had been marching for 15 days downtown without being heard.
“These Black people standing here today represent an attempt to placate the entire Black community and our white allies that have been out in the hundreds to thousands for the past 15 days calling for LPD accountability,” Williams said.
April Taylor said they were upset that Weathers and Gorton were willing to join a group marching for the first time.
“We’ve had multiple conversations over the last year and four months and the time for conversation is over,” Taylor said. “We feel like they keep trying to circumvent the fact that we’ve already had these same conversations over and over and over again.”
Williams and Taylor’s group followed and mixed in with the National Bar Association’s marchers. Both groups chanted, but the group of protesters confronted officers and tried to block them from walking around them. They eventually made contact with Weathers and others.
Weathers was taken to a sheriff’s vehicle by Sheriff Kathy Witt and other officers. He left the march after some protesters continued to confront him while he was in the vehicle.
In a statement, police said they were investigating the confrontation.
“As we have seen this morning, the protests that have continued for now 16 straight days continue to escalate because of the actions of a few agitators,” said the statement from Lexington police. “We are actively investigating the incident in which Chief Weathers was blocked from marching.”
“The protesters were aggressively trying to block me at every turn,” Weathers said in a statement Saturday afternoon. “They resorted to physical aggression towards me to get me to stop marching in an event I was asked to participate in.”
Police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said Saturday afternoon that no arrests would likely be made.
When both groups arrived at the church, Taylor told the crowd that video showed Weathers shoving protesters, a claim that police said was false.
“Video clearly showed protesters blocking Chief’s path and forcing him off the sidewalk,” Angel said Saturday afternoon.
Both groups of marchers continued on without Weathers and Witt. Williams’ group disrupted the other group’s chants.
While the National Bar Association group chanted “This is what community looks like,” other protesters responded with “This is what selling out looks like.”