Hundreds gridlock sections of Broadway after Derby without a police detail

Hundreds flooded the streets as a part of the yearly derby late night party.
Hundreds flooded the streets as a part of the yearly derby late night party.(WAVE)
Updated: May. 4, 2020 at 11:50 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Hundreds of people cruised, danced, and drank down Broadway Saturday night leaving the street gridlocked.

Hundreds of cars and people can be seen on online videos, celebrating what would have been Derby, a former tradition that was shut down by police in years past.

One person we spoke with said they had a lot of concerns about the fiasco.

"I feel like the LMPD didn't have concerns about the West End last night," Dino Johnson told WAVE 3 News.

Johnson, who is African American and grew up in the West End. He was leaving work Saturday night when he saw Broadway was blocked with cars and people partying.

He said the streets were gridlocked, people were not socially distancing, despite the high mortality rate among African Americans. He was disappointed with people's actions but also the lack of response.

“I was like where’s the LMPD at, why aren’t they breaking this up?” said Johnson.

Several LMPD Officers reached out to WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters too. They described it as mayhem and were frustrated there was no special detail in place to organize their efforts and make sure they had the manpower needed. In fact, they said officers had to be called in from other divisions to help.

The Broadway Corridor detail is something LMPD has done for years to manage the crowds.

“We know this happens every Derby,” Council President David James said. “It is not like a surprise to anyone. It’s clockwork.”

James says he got calls from angry residents living nearby, surrounded by partying. He said frustrated officers reached out to him as well, feeling they were unable to respond to other calls for help.

"There was no detail this year," James said. "I do not have an explanation from the police department or the mayor's office as to why there wasn't one, but there should have been."

He believes the lack of control was downright dangerous.

“TARC, the police, EMS, the fire department were unable to make their way through that traffic to respond to emergencies in that area and it endangered the lives of many, many people,” he said.

Dino Johnson was shocked as well.

"If there was an emergency, for EMS or the fire department, they wouldn't have been able to get through at all," he said.

LMPD responded by stating, "We were aware of the potential for people to be out last night and had plans in place. Traffic diversion and lot clearing took place. We are not able to give you specific numbers related to calls for service or volume of runs at this time. We have continued to ask people to follow safe social distancing practices. We will continue to monitor large group situations as they present themselves, asking people to voluntarily disperse."

James contradicted their statement.

“Having plans in place and executing those plans are two totally separate issues,” he said. “It’s disappointing the police department would choose to play word games on such a serious matter.”

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