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How effective are curfews?

While Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer ended the curfew for the city, some areas like St. Matthews have kept theirs through the weekend.


On Thursday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer ended a six-day curfew that made it illegal for protesters and others to be out on the street past 9 p.m. He said the curfew allowed the city to more effectively deploy police where they’re needed most. 

But many call curfews ineffective and potentially dangerous. 

“I was in a state of fear that I had never been in before," said Christian Armstrong, a 22-year-old protester.

Armstrong and 18-year-old Audrey Litwora don’t know each other, but they share an experience they both call terrifying. 

“I spent almost 30 hours in jail," Litwora said. 

Both Armstrong and Litwora were arrested during what they called a peaceful protest Sunday. 

“We was peaceful that night," said Armstrong. 

They told us they were trapped and unable to go home as instructed after LMPD blocked off streets shortly before 9 p.m. to impose a curfew. 

“They started shooting flash bombs at us, shooting the tear gas, pepper balls," Armstrong said. 

Armstrong and Litwora were put in handcuffs. 

“So curfews, I think, are an extension of a law and order tool that has been disproportionately been used to limit black freedom," said Nikki Brown, a professor of African American studies at the University of Kentucky.

Brown said throughout history, curfews have been used as tools to oppress African Americans. 

“They're embedded in this long, very troubled racist history," she said. 

On Monday, David McAtee, who owned a barbecue stand in West Louisville, was killed as the police and National Guard confronted curfew violators, not protesters, near his business.

“When police respond with overwhelming shows of force, that has a tendency to backfire," said Aaron Tucek, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, in response to McAtee's death.

Still, law enforcement calls curfews essential. 

“...To keep the unlawful individuals who are basically just trying to create chaos," said Barry Wilkerson, chief of police in Saint Matthews, where a 9 p.m. curfew is enforced through the weekend. 

“We welcome lawful, peaceful protesters," he said. 

But Litwora and Armstrong said they were peaceful, and ended up bruised and in jail. 

“I don’t think it was right," Armstrong said. 

Many protesters call curfews a blatant disregard to their First Amendment rights. Instead, they want police to practice deescalation and engage with the community, but officers we interviewed maintained curfews are necessary to maintain peace. 

RELATED: A week into protests, people continue to call for officers involved in Breonna Taylor's death to be fired

RELATED: Everything that led to Louisville's Breonna Taylor protests

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