Lexington Mayor, Chief say protests an “opportunity for change”

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Three days and nights of peaceful protests in

Lexington Police Chief L.B. Weathers

downtown Lexington provide a foundation and opportunity for needed changes, Mayor Linda Gorton said during a press conference Monday.

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The protests already have opened a dialogue on police procedures in Lexington, including the use of controversial ‘no-knock’ warrants like the one that resulted in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville.

The mayor and Police Chief L.B. Weathers also talked about the response of Lexington Police officers during the weekend and how to build on that response and mutual show of respect among officers and citizens.

“This is a rare opportunity for our City … a call to action. We need to use this momentum for the good,” Gorton said.

Gorton, who went to the Courthouse Plaza on Sunday to talk to those speaking out, said protesters should know their voices have been heard.

“I went downtown to listen to our citizens,” Gorton said. “That’s a first step. Now we’re taking the next step … starting a community conversation about how we go forward, together.”

Gorton said she wants to thank the citizens who organized the protests for reminding demonstrators, over and over again, to remain non-violent.

“We had people expressing their opinions, but the organizers reminded everyone that violence helps no one, and that was very important,” Gorton said.

Police made no arrests in three days of protest.

The mayor also said she wants to thank police officers who stayed strong and disciplined.

“Our police were incredible,” Gorton said. “It was a pressure-packed situation, and they maintained their professionalism. They are well trained, and it showed.”

Many police officers knelt together with protesters to a show of respect for the loss of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga. In recent days, the deaths of these three African Americans has sparked protest across the country, including Lexington.

Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers was one of those who knelt.

Gorton said she and Weathers have been in conversation about steps going forward, including an examination of the use of no-knock warrants.

“Our policies are based on best practices and the highest professional standards,” Weathers said.

No-knock warrants are rarely used in Lexington, and also require approval from a judge.

Gorton said she will also organize a group within the next couple of weeks to recommend changes.

The group will include citizens, representatives of the courts, the faith community, the Urban County Council, and others.

“We want to learn from other cities and from our own citizens,” Gorton said. “This is our moment to make change happen.”