Reckoning with Louisville’s Crime Wave—and America’s

Louisville is best known as the host of the Kentucky Derby and home of good bourbon, Mint Juleps, and the Hot Brown. Prior to Ferguson, even during the crack epidemic of the late 1980s and early ’90s, Louisville enjoyed relatively low rates of homicide and violent crime. Between 1980 and 2015, Louisville averaged 54 homicides per year. In 2015, Louisville topped 80 homicides for the first time since 1979. In 2016, the city had its then-deadliest year ever, with 117 murders.

A Pretext For Protest

In 2020, Breonna Taylor became the spark that ignited a conflagration when police attempting to serve a narcotics warrant shot and killed her in her apartment hallway after her boyfriend opened fire. The legacy media combined with Big Tech and some major corporations conspired to create a portrait of “systemic racism” and out-of-control cops serving a “no knock” warrant, gunning down yet another unsuspecting innocent victim as she tried to sleep in her home.  

As always, the truth is more complicated than the media spin.

First, although a judge originally issued a “no-knock” warrant, the officers announced themselves, knocking multiple times and identifying themselves as police, as a neighbor in an adjoining apartment testified. When no one answered, officers breached the door, whereupon Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker started firing, striking one officer in the leg. In a volley of fire, Taylor was hit six times, though Walker was unscathed.  

Second, Taylor was a suspect because she was hip-deep in a criminal conspiracy and drug operation with her sometime-boyfriend, a twice-convicted drug dealer named Jamarcus Glover. Glover’s frequent run-ins with law enforcement entangled Taylor. She had been previously interviewed in a murder inquiry, in which the body of one of Glover’s associates wound up in the trunk of her rental car, and paid or arranged bail for him and his accomplices on multiple occasions. A GPS tracker placed on Glover’s vehicle showed him making regular trips to her apartment complex and surveillance photos showed Taylor outside a drug house.

In a series of jailhouse phone calls after Taylor’s death, Glover, who was arrested the same night that Taylor was shot, was recorded attempting to arrange bail. He told another woman that he had left about $14,000 with Taylor. “Bre been having all my money,” he claimed. The same afternoon, he told another associate he had left money at Taylor’s home. The media has consistently reported that no money or drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment, but that is because in the ensuing chaos a search was never performed.  

Given the facts, it came as no surprise to most legal observers that after a four-month investigation, a grand jury handed down no charges against two of the officers while the third, Brett Hankison, was charged with “wanton endangerment” and fired from the force. Hankison was charged because he wildly discharged his weapon, shooting into other apartments in the complex.

A Surge in Violence

As a consequence of this series of unfortunate events, Black Lives Matter and Antifa—the paramilitary arm of the elite—protested for more than 180 consecutive days during the summer and fall of 2020. The great race “reckoning” gave rise to a good deal of bloodletting and violence, what Steve Sailer has called the “Floyd Effect.” Louisville closed out 2020 with a record number of criminal homicides, ending the year with 173 deaths, a 94 percent increase over 2019. The number of homicides in 2020 topped the city’s previous record of 117 homicides in 2016. Only Milwaukee had a greater percentage increase of homicides for 2020. Louisville also topped its record for nonfatal shootings, coming in at 585 shootings, an increase of 81 percent over the previous record.

The surge in shootings hit the black community the hardest. Despite being 23.6 percent of the population, Louisville police reported 70 percent of homicide victims in 2020 were black, as were 80 percent of suspects arrested. The majority of homicides took place in two ZIP codes, both areas in West Louisville that have large black populations.

This trend tracks national level data. According to a USA Today analysis of gun violence statistics, mass shootings in 2020 surged by 47 percent. The largest increases were in states with cities that have disproportionately large black and Latino populations.   

Louisville also saw a major increase in carjacking crimes, which increased by 160 percent in 2020. In total, there were 211 carjackings reported in 2020.

And 2021 saw even greater violence, ending as the deadliest on record with 188 homicides. A total of 583 people suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds–123 of these victims were children as were 24 of the deaths. As in 2020, the impact of the violence is primarily a result of black-on-black crime, with 75 percent of homicide victims and 73 percent of suspects being black. Carjackings are also up 150 percent since 2019 and reached 209 before the end of October.


Craven leadership within the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and political class is driving the increase in crime.  

In May 2019, then-chief Steve Conrad, who had previously received votes of no confidence from the Fraternal Order of Police and the Metro Council, introduced new traffic stop policies in direct response to the controversial stop of a Louisville teen who, after allegedly making a “wide turn,” was pulled from his car, frisked, and handcuffed while a drug-sniffing dog and police searched his vehicle.

Proactive policing plummeted after the chief’s announcement of the new traffic stop policy.

“Self-initiated” policing includes traffic stops, business checks, and pedestrian stops. The week before the policy changes were unveiled self-initiated activities totaled 2,650. The week after they were announced, there were 1,293—a decline of more than 50 percent in just two weeks.

Under attack by leadership, force morale took a hit. Within months local media reported a raft of departures from the force, aggravating an existing shortage of officers. Nearly 10 percent of the LMPD force departed in 2019, many taking positions in other local departments.  

Cops were further handcuffed during the rioting following George Floyd’s death in May, 2020. On May 28, violence erupted in Louisville, ending with seven people shot. Mayor Greg Fischer shared a statement from Breonna Taylor’s family, asking that protesters “do not succumb to the levels that we see out of the police.”

Fischer, who months earlier ordered police to collect the license plate information of church attendees, imposed a dusk to dawn curfew.  But within days he ended the curfew, which wasn’t being enforced, anyway. When asked what citizens should do if they encounter rioting or looting, the mayor said, “If you see anything going awry, tell people to chill.”

Police officers reached out to local media claiming that the mayor was ordering them to retreat and stand down even when protests endangered the public and officers. “One ranking officer who spoke anonymously, and some members of Metro Council, said Fischer’s office is more concerned about how the police response to violent protesters is going to look in the media than he is about people’s safety.”

Conrad was fired on May 31, 2020. He was followed by two interim chiefs. Eventually the position was filled by Ericka Shields, who had been run out of Atlanta after the Rayshard Brooks shooting.  Shields took over a force in July 2021 with 300 vacant positions. An outside audit at the time of Shields’ hiring found that 75 percent of Louisville officers said they would leave to join another department if possible. 

Spreading Violence

The violence gripping Louisville is increasingly random, and moving into suburban areas.

On three occasions since September, citizens have been shot on highways in Louisville.  In September, 16-year-old Tyree Smith was killed, and two other teens injured, after a gunman fired on a group of students at a city bus stop. On December 23, a man was shot and killed in a Waffle House parking lot in the Louisville suburb of Fern Creek. On the same day, Karson Reitz allegedly shot two men dead at Roosters, another local restaurant. Another man was shot in an eastern suburb of Louisville after coming to the aid of his wife, who was being carjacked. A fitness center located in a complex with Whole Foods was peppered with gunfire in early December.   

The Bigger Picture

Louisville’s rising crime rate mirrors national trends. Urban centers across the country have seen surges in violence. Crime rates, which have plummeted since the 1990s, skyrocketed in 2020 despite COVID lockdowns. The Manhattan Institute’s Rafael Mangual reported in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed  that 30 major American cities recorded record or near-record homicides in 2021. FBI statistics show that homicides jumped by nearly 30 percent last year compared with 2019, from 16,669 to 21,570

During the orgy of anarchy following the death of George Floyd, cops were shot and assaulted.  In many cities, their vehicles and station houses were firebombed. Monuments to America’s great men were defaced and defiled. The push to defund police gained significant support. All the while, the elite remained either silent or provided aid and comfort to the BLM movement and the streets were filled with guilt-ridden whites offering obeisance for their many sins.  

The American elite spent 2020 yammering about a racial reckoning while sacralizing the violence of Black Lives Matter in the name of “diversity,” “inclusion,” and “equity.”  Perhaps this assuaged the guilt of self-hating whites, but it did not improve the lives of blacks. According to the Washington Post, police killed 14 unarmed black men in 2020. Heather Mac Donald writes that in 2021, four unarmed blacks were killed by officers, while 26 officers were killed by black suspects.   

Meanwhile, there were more than 600 riots in 220 American cities between May and September, 2020. How many thousands of blacks were killed in 2020 as a result of the national freakout over race and the violence it spawned? The American elite fomented a revolution for the purpose of unseating a president they perceived as a threat—real or imagined. The violence they spawned continues to spiral out of control. One hopes that they won’t avoid the Reign of Terror they have unleashed on the rest of America.

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About Darrell Dow

Darrell Dow writes from Crestwood, Kentucky. He is the author, with Thomas Achord, of Who Is My Neighbor: An Anthology in Natural Relations. His work has appeared in Chronicles, Antiwar.com, and American Remnant

Photo: Police and emergency medical services give aid to a critically wounded FedEx driver on September 1, 2021. Louisville has experienced a surge in violent crime over the past year and a half, exacerbated by a shrinking police force and, city officials say, officers under increased scrutiny who are more reluctant to carry out duties. Jon Cherry/Getty Images