These days, Kentucky veterans are facing a different kind of foe. From December’s tornadoes in the western half of the commonwealth to last week’s extreme flooding in the other half, veteran communities are now on the frontlines of weather warfare.
For three months after the tornadoes, Bowling Green’s veteran communities provided a community distribution center for the storm’s victims, said Gerald Mounce, commander of American Veterans Post 130.
Now, they are hosting a donation drive – Flooding Eastern Kentucky with Love – at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1298 to assist in flooding recovery efforts.
“Here we are again doing it,” Mounce said. “It’s another opportunity to fulfill our mission as soldiers.”
The collection will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day through Aug. 12, at which point the donated items will be hauled to eastern Kentucky distribution centers.
Accepted donations include “anything you might need to dig yourself out,” said Calvin Shaack, VFW Post 1170 quartermaster. VFW is also helping with the donation drive.
Shovels, batteries, flashlights, brooms, bottled water, nonperishable food items (if canned, with pop-tops), baby and adult diapers, baby formula, pet food and supplies, cleaning products and hygiene products are some of the donations needed.
Everything must be new and the only clothing accepted is packaged socks and underwear – survivors don’t want the kind of stuff people would sell at a yard sale, Mounce said.
People can also donate money.
Shaack said funds are the easiest and best donation due to their flexibility. He said every dollar will go toward eastern Kentuckians.
Checks can be mailed to Kentucky VFW at 3031 Poplar Level Road, Louisville, KY, 40217 with “Disaster Relief Fund” written in the memo.
Some VFW members have been in eastern Kentucky since the flooding, Shaack said. They’ve been driving pontoons and Jet Skis through the area gathering people from roofs and helping people clean themselves, their homes and businesses from the unsanitary floodwater.
“We are trying to keep people fed and germ-free,” Shaack said.
Mounce and Shaack both said community service is a key purpose of veterans organizations.
“That’s what we do. Our first goal is to defend veterans, active and inactive,” Shaack said. “Our secondary goal is to help the community.”
While eastern Kentuckians begin to rebuild, Mounce hopes the veteran support shows that the community cares about them.
“It’s going to be a long process, even longer than ours I think,” he said. “I hope it brings a little hope back in their lives.”
– Follow regional reporter Sarah Michels on Twitter @sarah_michels13 or visit bgdailynews.com.
LOUISVILLE – The federal government filed civil rights charges Thursday against four Louisville police officers over the drug raid that led to the death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman whose fatal shooting helped fuel the racial justice protests that rocked the nation in 2020.
The charges are another effort to hold law enforcement accountable for the killing of the 26-year-old woman after one of the officers was acquitted of state charges this year.
“Breonna Taylor should be alive today,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in announcing the charges, which include unlawful conspiracy, use of force and obstruction of justice.
The charges named former officers Joshua Jaynes and Brett Hankison, along with current officers Kelly Goodlett and Sgt. Kyle Meany. Most of the charges stem from the faulty drug warrant used to search Taylor’s home.
Hankison was the only officer charged Thursday who was on the scene that night. Louisville police said they are seeking to fire Goodlett and Meany.
Taylor was shot to death by officers who knocked down her door while executing a search warrant. Taylor’s boyfriend fired a shot that hit one of the officers as they came through the door, and they returned fire, striking Taylor multiple times.
Local activists and members of Taylor’s family celebrated the charges and thanked federal officials. Supporters gathered in a downtown park and chanted: “Say her name, Breonna Taylor!”
“This is a day when Black women saw equal justice in America,” family lawyer Benjamin Crump said.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said she has waited nearly 2 1/2 years for police to be held accountable.
“Today’s overdue, but it still hurts,” she said. “You all (are) learning today that we’re not crazy.”
The Justice Department is also conducting a non-criminal investigation of the Louisville Police Department, which was announced last year, that is probing whether the department has a pattern of using excessive force and conducting unreasonable search and seizures.
In the protests of 2020, Taylor’s name was often shouted along with George Floyd, who was killed less than three months after Taylor by a Minneapolis police officer in a videotaped encounter that shocked the nation.
Protesters who took to the streets over months in Louisville were especially critical of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who presented only wanton endangerment charges against Hankison for a grand jury to consider in 2020. Some members of the grand jury later came forward and claimed Cameron’s office steered them away from charges for the other officers involved in the raid.
“Thank God that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not get the last word in regard to justice for Breonna Taylor,” Crump said Thursday. “We have always said this was a conspiracy to cover up the death of Breonna Taylor. Today, the Justice Department put forth the charging documents to show we weren’t crazy.”
Cameron, a Republican running for governor next year, said in announcing the indictment against Hankison in September 2020 that he would leave “issues regarding potential civil rights violations” to federal officials to investigate.
Garland said the officers who were at Taylor’s home just after midnight on March 13, 2020, “were not involved in the drafting of the warrant, and were unaware of the false and misleading statements.”
Hankison was indicted on two deprivation-of-rights charges alleging he used excessive force when he retreated from Taylor’s door, turned a corner and fired 10 shots into the side of her two-bedroom apartment. Bullets flew into a neighbor’s apartment, nearly striking one man.
He was acquitted by a jury of state charges earlier this year in Louisville.
A separate indictment said Jaynes and Meany both knew the warrant used to search Taylor’s home had information that was “false, misleading and out of date.” Both are charged with conspiracy and deprivation of rights.
Meany ran a police unit that focused on aggressive drug investigations. Police served five warrants simultaneously the night of the Taylor raid, four of them in a concentrated area where drug activity was suspected, and the fifth at Taylor’s apartment nearly 10 miles away.
The warrant for Taylor’s house alleged she was receiving packages for a suspected drug dealer who was a former boyfriend. The warrant, signed by Jaynes and approved by Meany, said Jaynes had confirmed with the postal service that packages for the ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, were going to Taylor’s apartment. Investigators later learned that Jaynes had not confirmed that with the postal inspector.
Jaynes was fired in January 2021 for violating department standards in the preparation of a search warrant execution and for being “untruthful” in the Taylor warrant.
Jaynes and Goodlett allegedly conspired to falsify an investigative document that was written after Taylor’s death, Garland said. Federal investigators also allege that Meany, who testified at Hankison’s trial, lied to the FBI during its investigation.
Federal officials filed a separate charge against Goodlett, alleging she conspired with Jaynes to falsify Taylor’s warrant affidavit.
Garland alleged that Jaynes and Goodlett met in a garage in May 2020 “where they agreed to tell investigators a false story.”
Former Louisville police Sgt. John Mattingly, who was shot at Taylor’s door, retired last year. Another officer, Myles Cosgrove, who investigators said fired the shot that killed Taylor, was dismissed from the department in January 2021.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenny Walker, who was in her apartment that night and fired the shot at Mattingly, was initially charged with attempted murder of a police officer, but that charge was dropped after Walker told investigators he thought an intruder was breaking into the apartment.
The Taylor case also prompted a review of the city’s “no-knock” warrant policy. Officers at Taylor’s door said they knocked and announced they were police even though the warrant didn’t require that. Those types of warrants, used in drug investigations to attempt to prevent the destruction of evidence, were later banned in the city of Louisville.
When slavery was abolished in the United States, many communities marked the occasion with celebrations of freedom.
While some of these celebrations have come to an end, Russellville continues bringing awareness to this historic event with its 8th of August Emancipation Celebration.
The Russellville celebration, which is in its 35th year, began earlier this week with an opening ceremony at Mount Zion Baptist Church, food trucks, a museum slavery exhibition and a beauty pageant. Events will continue through the weekend.
The celebration is organized by steering committee members Michael Morrow, Paulette Smith, Kathy Edmonds, Pat Gaines and Patrick Maskin.
Morrow, who is also director of the SEEK Museum, said many of the celebrations began immediately after the Civil War ended, but the number of these events has declined since then.
Morrow said Russellville is one of the few communities that still celebrates Aug. 8.
While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the 13th Amendment, which permanently abolished slavery, wasn’t ratified until December 1865.
It wasn’t until Aug. 8, 1865, that people in Russellville and surrounding areas found out about the 13th Amendment’s passage in Congress, Morrow said.
Edmonds said the celebration originated in Allensville but was later moved to Russellville because of how large the event became.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “The Hill We Climb” and is a tribute to poet Amanda Gorman’s January 2021 inauguration speech.
The festival will continue Friday with a blues concert at Sixth and Morgan streets with Nashville All Star Band and a soul food fest.
Events will continue throughout the day Saturday at Hampton Park including dust bowl basketball, softball, golf, a 5K run, cornhole, football, a parade, vendors, food trucks and entertainment.
Edmonds said that on Sunday, everybody will attend church. The dust bowl will continue Sunday, Morrow said, and “then people will head home.”
“When everyone gets home safe to their families, then we know we had a successful August 8th celebration,” Morrow said.