LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Central Kentucky faith leaders gathered Monday morning to insist that Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts drop all charges against protesters from summer 2020.
Two years ago, Lexington looked like much of the rest of America; awash in nightly protesters speaking out against police tactics and brutality in the wake of the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Since those nights, many protestors have accepted plea deals, but one refused, and Sarah Williams still figures to stand trial this summer.
“It is impossible and hypocritical to genuinely celebrate the accomplishments that have been made without still being troubled by the charges that were brought against those who faithfully carried out the protests,” said Reverend Keith Tyler from Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
Reverend Tyler was joined by colleagues from around the state to express their disgust with Fayette County Attorney, Larry Roberts. The faith leaders feel as is Mr. Roberts is unjustly prosecuting protesters who did nothing wrong during the summer of 2020, when protests against police violence spilled into the streets of downtown Lexington.
“Protesting is the language of those not being heard,” Tyler stated. “A group of faithful protesters led the way, making sure that the cries for a better Lexington for Black people, and for all people, were finally heard by people in positions of power.”
The faith leaders have been very pleased with some of the progress that’s been made including, but not limited to, the ban on no-knock warrants and the mandated use of body cameras by police officers. But those accomplishments essentially get to the root of the matter for them now; those same people who helped fight for change are being treated unfairly by a system they helped to change.
“As long as a prosecutor is saying, ‘If the police charge someone with something, I will prosecute them,’ even when the charges surround concerns with police actions, we see we still have a long way to go,” said Reverend William Clark, of Shiloh Baptist Church, which hosted today’s event.
Reverend Tyler broke it down into simpler terms while arguing for all charges to be dropped and for records of those who agreed to a plea arrangement to be expunged.
“The Lexington protests did not result in property damage or acts of violence,” he noted.
"Among the charges that were brought were charges for inciting a riot, even though there was no riot. Therefore bringing these charges gives the appearance of using the judicial system as an instrument to punish people for exposing policing inequities and inequalities," said Rev. Dr. Keith Tyler/Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
The reverend also noted that Roberts is up for re-election and next month's primary will decide his fate.
He urged community members to get out and vote May 17.