FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -- Gov. Andy Beshear announced Saturday morning that he is calling out units of the Kentucky National Guard to keep the peace in Louisville, with several hundred expected to be on duty Saturday night.
The activation follows a second night of violence in the state’s largest city over the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death at her home in March by police, for which Beshear has called for a full investigation.
In announcing the Guard call-up, Beshear issued a statement and recorded a video on his YouTube channel, in which he said, “The death of Breonna Taylor is tragic, and it has led to an outpouring of emotions of frustration, of fatigue and of the belief by many of our Kentuckians that justice isn’t available to all of us in our state and in our society. While I can never pretend to understand the depths of those feelings, what I can do is pledge to listen and to do everything I can to help moving forward.
“The demonstrations in Louisville have all started peacefully, but what we have seen, especially last night, and what our intelligence says is going to happen are outside groups moving in, trying to create violence to harm everybody who is on those streets. We cannot let Breonna’s legacy be marred by violence, and we can’t let our streets turn violent.
“So today, I’m taking a step to ensure the safety of everybody by calling up the National Guard to help keep peace in Louisville. I hope everybody knows this is a big step and a tough step, and it’s not one intended to silence any voice, because I want to hear. But I want to make sure at the end of the day that we are all safe.”
In a letter sent to Kentucky National Guard Adjutant General BG Haldane Lamberton ordering the call-up, Beshear stated, “State government has the responsibility to provide for public health, safety and welfare. It is therefore appropriate to combine the resources of the Kentucky National Guard in joint operations with selected federal, state and local agencies to assist those agencies in the protection of life, public health and safety, to promote the public welfare, to prevent undue loss or suffering, and to mitigate the effects of such events.”
Gen. Lamberton says, "We're fully prepared to support the LMPD and other state agencies in protecting lives and preserving property. "We will help ensure that our Kentucky citizens have the right to demonstrate peacefully and safely."
Approximately 350 Kentucky Guardsmen have been activated. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery in Lexington, 198th Military Police Battalion in Louisville, 761st Firefighting Team out of Greenville and Air Guardsmen from the 123rd Airlift Wing in Louisville will augment the LMPD in and around the greater Louisville region. They will be prepared to assist the police in maintaining peace and protect critical infrastructure, according to Kentucky Army National Guard's G3 Operations officer, Col. J.B. Richmond.
The Kentucky Guard says they will provide support as necessary to civil authorities as long as directed, in order to ensure the safety of people and property.