Sgt. Dave Mutchler, president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614, released an open letter Thursday threatening retaliation against local citizens who protest or question police actions, while praising the “silent majority” who unquestioningly support law enforcement.
However, in a statement released hours later, Mayor Greg Fischer said Mutchler’s sentiments were in the minority in Louisville, adding he would not “incite anger and distrust between the police and the community.”
Mutchler’s inflammatory letter took aim at several different groups, including an unspecified “criminal element” and the media, which he claimed ignored police supporters and “fanned the flames for financial gains.”
In the letter, Mutchler also described the “self-appointed spokespersons who choose to remain blind to reason, who use misinformation and who sensationalize tragedy at every opportunity to forward their political agenda.”
Mutchler did not return a voicemail from Insider Louisville seeking to identify the people to whom he was specifically referring. However, the letter strongly implies that he was addressing those who have raised questions about the police shooting of Sudanese immigrant Deng Manyuon this weekend, as well as those who have protested here over the police killings of unarmed black men around the country since last summer. Mutchler stated that such individuals have put the lives of officers and citizens in danger, and says the police will now begin to target them.
“From now on we will call you out each and every time you tell a lie, twist the truth or otherwise engage in vile behavior meant to push your selfish agendas,” wrote Mutchler. “If your behavior or untruths causes harm to us or the public, we will make every attempt to have you investigated, charged and prosecuted at the local, state or federal level. Your idiocy and lies are what caused the destruction in Ferguson and other cities around the country, and we won’t be tolerating it here.”
Mutchler added that if those individuals refuse to comply with law enforcement, they should “expect to be met with force.”
“You want our attention?” wrote Mutchler. “Well you have it. Consider yourself on notice.”
Fischer responded hours later in a statement distancing himself from Mutchler’s views.
“I appreciate that emotions are high after the tragic event of last week,” he said. “This letter does not reflect the sentiments of me or the vast majority of Louisville’s citizens, who know that we are all on the same page, working to build safe and strong communities for all of our families. We are in this together — police who put their lives on the line to keep us safe while building strong relationships of trust, and community members, who must be engaged citizens involved in our efforts to create a compassionate, thriving Louisville. Rather than incite anger and distrust between the police and the community, my administration will continue to work to build those critical relationships and the trust they create.”
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Carla Wallace of Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice, one of the most vocal groups calling for police accountability over the past year, told IL she wishes Fischer had gone even further.
“It’s the constitutional right of people to assemble and to protest peacefully, and it seems to me that this letter is incredibly provocative and threatening to people who are raising concerns,” said Wallace. “Many people interpret some of those lines as a physical threat, or at least using police powers to arrest people. If people are doing something illegal, that’s one thing, but the tone of that letter felt threatening to me.”
Wallace added that “no matter what anyone thinks of this weekend’s shooting, we’re allowed to have a community conversation and raise questions about a man’s life being taken. It seems like he’s saying that anyone who raises questions is going to be dealt with.”
Mutchler’s full letter can be read below:
***** Updated 10:47 a.m. *****
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad released a statement this morning — 17 hours after Mutchler released his letter — distancing himself from Mutchler’s comments, saying he does “not believe this serves the interest of the community.”
“I have read the recent letter from Dave Mutchler, the President of River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614. I have also had the opportunity to speak with President Mutchler. He wrote this letter in his role as the FOP President. As the Chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department, I have a very different role. It is my job to work with the men and women of this department to do all we can to make Louisville a safer community. My most important job is to protect and serve the citizens of Louisville, and I do not believe this serves the interest of the community. To this end, we must always treat everyone with respect and dignity. By doing so, we earn their trust, which is essential to our success in policing this great community. We have seen far too much violence over the past few months! Now is the time for all of us to work together to truly make Louisville the kind of community we all want it to be.”