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Lexington faith leaders want more action on no-knock warrants

Faith leaders church Lexington.png
Posted at 4:05 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 18:07:03-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A year after Breonna Taylor's death, Kentucky lawmakers have limited, but have not banned, the use of no-knock warrants. That's why the Black Faith Leaders of Lexington and Vicinity (BFLLV) and their supporters are putting on the pressure at the local level .

On April 15, BFLLV called on Mayor Linda Gorton and city council to take immediate steps within 30 days towards passing an ordinance that was permanent ban the use of no-knock warrants, without exception.

Now that timeline is up, and they are calling on Mayor Gorton for action.

Mayor Gorton has recently restated her position that she's still unwilling to go beyond the moratorium that she put in place almost a year ago.

Pastor David Peoples said on behalf of BFLLV that Mayor Gorton's position "appears to be unaffected by the citizens who have cried out for her to lead Lexington towards a permanent ban."

In a statement to WLEX, Mayor Gorton stated the following:

"In deciding to impose a moratorium on no knock warrants back in June, I listened to citizens on all sides of this issue, and I listened to our police … and I continue listen to the ongoing debate. In Lexington, a no-knock warrant is about life and death situations. These warrants are rare, and they can be misunderstood. Our chief has said there are times and situations where no knock warrants offer more protection for police and for citizens because they involve violent situations, and he has expressed his concerns about eliminating them completely. I understand how difficult this decision is for Councilmembers as they hear from many different voices in our community."

But that hasn't stopped these leaders from letting her know that the moratorium doesn't go far enough.

"The lack of a willingness to support an ordinance certainly gives the appearance very little has really changed, and that there is a lack of commitment to this and other necessary police reforms," said Peoples.

The Urban County government appears to be in support. The proposed ordinance passed out of the planning and public safety committee unanimously. If the ordinance does pass out of the full council, it would still need the mayor's signature. As we go into another summer BFLLV are promising to continue to amplify the issue.

"We will illuminate for more than 48,000 Black Lexingtonians and for all Lexingtonians who seek progressive police reform, whether or not Mayor Gorton and the council members we have elected truly represent our interests in this matter, that could quickly and easily become a matter of life and death in our community," said Peoples.

They're calling on their supporters to email and call the mayor's office.

No-knock warrants are used rarely in Lexington and have always required the signature of a judge. The urban county council is set to vote on this ordinance in early June.