Things have been heating up at the #OccupyICELOU encampment; fighting back against police harassment and threats from the far-Right. To see how they got things rolling, check out this article.
Demonstrators have been occupying the sidewalk outside the ICE offices in Louisville for a week. The camp has dealt with push back from law enforcement, counter-protesters, rain, and extreme heat. Our numbers continue to grow and support from Louisville residents has been overwhelmingly positive. So many of the camp’s needs have been covered by people bringing necessities to the camp, providing meals daily, and making sure we stay stocked with water and ice (the kind we don’t want to melt!)
Throughout the week, the demonstrators were pushed off federal property and we were told that even our bodies weren’t allowed on site. Each time DHS agents gave the order, people gathered would acquiesce to their demands and then slowly creep back onto the property. This cycle lasted for several days, including a time when the officers demanded everyone vacate federal property while children were sitting on yoga mats in the grass during hours when the building wasn’t even open.
Protesters spent July Fourth rallying on the federal property with their families. Throughout the day, DHS repeatedly removed people from the property until Kentucky state representative Attica Scott came and stood on the property stating that she would not move. DHS went back inside the building, defeated.
On Thursday, the camp was alerted to a counter protest being planned by the III% militia in Kentucky and Indiana for Saturday, July the Seventh. The camp soon afterwards saw multiple far-Right sympathizers and law enforcement in plain clothes, casing the area and photographing people at the camp.
“Throughout the action an LMPD helicopter made several deep dips towards the crowd with what seemed like an attempt to intimidate demonstrators on our side.”
On Saturday, over 500 people turned out to shout down the fascists, including Louisville ARA and March Fourth Alliance, comrades from HARM, the Holler Network, Michiana AFA, Lexington ARA, and Columbus ARA, alongside clergy and multiple local activist groups. Meanwhile, only 50 counter protesters showed, a motley assortment of III%ers, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and KKK members. LMPD allowed the counter-protesters to carry rifles and handguns while confiscating bats, sticks, body armor, knives, and other weapons that #OccupyICElou protesters brought to defend themselves-despite these items also being legal to carry for self-defense under Kentucky law. Throughout the action an LMPD helicopter made several deep dips towards the crowd with what seemed like an attempt to intimidate demonstrators on our side.
Multiple federal agents attempted to pick fights with anti-fascists and pass themselves off as part of the III% militia or Proud Boys, but later joined police atop a building nearby. The police blocked off the street, allowing them to have one block just north of the camp with barricades and a police line separating the camp from the counter protesters.
About 30 minutes into their rally, one of them erected a confederate flag. Video soon circulating of the III% militia kicking KKK members out of their rally. They consider themselves to be a group that fights to see the laws upheld, but directed vitriol like, “Murderers go home!” to people of color and immigrants on our side. While they may wish to be viewed as anti-racist, they clearly have a pro-white agenda.
“Multiple federal agents attempted to pick fights with anti-fascists and pass themselves off as part of the III% militia or Proud Boys, but later joined police atop a building nearby.”
During the action, several III%ers attempted to enter the camp to take photographs or to infiltrate. They did an atrocious job of blending in and were immediately removed each time. The cops-as always-faced the anti-fascists and had their backs to the militia and other white supremacists. Even after being asked who’s side they were on numerous times, they refused to keep their eyes on the nazis in the street. At noon, the crowds dispersed, and some of the III%ers went to a fast food restaurant across the street. They left abruptly once anti-fascists joined them without the presence of their LMPD bodyguards.
On Saturday evening, LMPD-in a effort to further harass #OccupyICElou-served the camp with a notice to comply with an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) policy of having clear space four feet from the curb into the sidewalk so that wheelchairs may pass. While ideas were being considered, they served the camp again at 5pm on Sunday evening with a four hour notice to comply. This required all sleeping tents to be moved and replaced with canopy tents and cots. #OccupyICELou had a tremendous showing of support from the community and the camp complied within an hour. LMPD did a walk-through at 9pm and found the encampment to be in compliance with ADA policy.
Throughout the week, Mitch McConnell has been in Louisville. Several #OccupyICELou campers met him inside and outside of restaurants and protested his presence in local businesses to the point where at one place, he abruptly left his meal before finishing. Local organizations often demonstrate outside of Mitch’s house and he is regularly told that he is not welcome in Louisville, but this was a particularly bad week for him trying to have dinner. As the camp continues, politicians will see more often than not that ignoring the demands of the people they claim to serve will make it difficult for them to have a moment’s peace in public.
As y’all can see, we’ve had a pretty busy week here-standing strong against the forces of the state and the far-Right, while also building and standing with our community.