Reporter’s reflections with Steve Crump: Heartbreak in my beloved hometown of Louisville

Updated: Sep. 25, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WBTV) - Having lived in Charlotte for more than 30 years, it is easy to understand how the Queen City has become home.

However, the place of my birth, city of my growth and education, and locale to so many cherished memories of family, friends, and indelible moments has become ground zero in the latest chapter of protests, policing and social justice.

I had never heard the name Breonna Taylor until the story of her death went national and global.

The case has clearly put my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky right on front street U.S.A.

Anyone who knows me and how much I love Louisville from afar, can comprehend my deep devotion to U of L basketball and the passion that follows me when I’m back home covering the Kentucky Derby for sister station WAVE 3.

Being in the presence of Muhammad Ali can leave any adult feeling like a 4-year-old child getting his or her favorite toy on Christmas morning. In other words, it can make you feel real giddy.

Pride comes that the city on the banks of the Ohio River has a large corporate-shaped footprint by being the home of the Louisville Slugger, the headquarters of Brown Foreman distillers, the main offices of KFC and Yum Brands, along with ties as an major outpost for UPS.

Gut punch and disappointment are among the frayed emotions connected to the Taylor case, but rather than focus on the investigation and legal proceedings, it is my intent to share a few observations.

At times like this, loving one’s hometown from far away is tough. Wrapping your head around the current optics is unsettling.

The steps of city hall which we were taught to revere as students and as boy scouts has become the staging area for police and protestors.

So many of the areas through downtown and beyond taken over by marchers offer stirring flashbacks from my childhood and documented moments as an adult.

Not long after the announcement was made that no one would be charged with Taylor’s death, demonstrators took to the street but watching this exercise in social justice left me glued to the tv screen for several reasons.

The daytime protests went right smack through my boyhood neighborhood known as Smoketown, but what darkness brought can be best described as harrowing.

Two LMPD officers were wounded by gunfire with non-life-threatening injuries. The shooting happened two streets away from where my family’s home was located.

Growing up in Louisville can easily put one in the category of the so-called six degrees of separation.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was a year behind me at Trinity High School where we have a saying “friends for four years and brothers for life.”

Getting to know the mayor over the years, he is clearly a people person with a commitment of doing the right thing. He just gets it, and now faces a tough task of restoring trust in the city.

Another shocker in this saga came not long after it was learned the officers had been wounded.

The first press conference explaining their conditions was held right on a street corner just steps away from where my parents owned a business in the 1970′s.

The intersection of Hancock and Chestnut is one block away from University Hospital.

Getting back to optics. It is most disturbing to see on the national news that block after block of buildings are covered in plywood which includes a federal courthouse, and downtown hospital.

The vandalism, violence, looting and destruction of property clearly demonstrates what happens when peaceful protests go off the rails.

Like so many others, I agree that lawlessness of that nature has no place in our society as it relates to nonviolent demonstrations.

So, what’s next in Louisville?

There is still an FBI investigation that’s underway. The findings of that probe may further impact the case.

And how does my hometown heal?

Putting into action some of the police reforms that came as a result of the civil suit settled with Ms. Taylor’s family.

Healing also comes from effective community discussion allowing cooler heads to prevail.

Healing may also be discovered through developing newfound trust that crosses racial lines and all socioeconomic groups.

Such suggestions are easier said than done, especially after literally and figuratively walking in the shoes of those on the ground in a place that’s hurting.

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