Op-Ed by LSURJ member Carla F Wallace, Louisville Courier Journal / Photo by Alton Strupp
In the summer of 1985, Robert and Martha Marshall’s home was firebombed in the Sylvania Neighborhood of Southwest Jefferson County. I remember standing with them amidst the charred remains of their home as we held vigil there in support of their family and in protest of what had happened.
The civil rights lawsuit brought by the Marshalls all those decades ago has now led to the recent revelations in The Courier Journal that Mike Loran and Gary Fischer, two current officers in the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were members of a Ku Klux Klan group within law enforcement.
This is not shocking news. In the 1980s, it was discovered that some members of LMPD were Klan members. The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression fought to have them removed. We argued, how can you swear to treat people equally, regardless of race, carry a gun doing it and also take an oath to the Klan?
But it is deeper than that. We are not talking here about a few ‘problem sheriffs’ or bad-apple cops. We are talking about a system whose roots are in the recapture of runaway slaves and whose work today is at the top of the list when it comes to feeding mass incarceration and perpetuating police violence — disproportionately against Black people, people of color and poor white folks too.