LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Sunday marked 137 days of protests in Louisville, and rain or shine, a dozen people to over 1,000 marching, peaceful to chaotic, someone has always been at Jefferson Square Park protesting for justice for Breonna Taylor, and along the way, a community has been created.
When the protests started in late May, Denorver Garrett used to drive from Cincinnati to participate. He can easily be spotted during a march because he carries a giant wooden cross, but when Garrett isn’t protesting, he has a hair trimmer in his hands.
“What’s the best way to make somebody feel good is to cut their hair, you know, put a smile on their face,” he said.
After a couple of months of coming down to Jefferson Square Park, he moved to Louisville with his family. He said the people at the square made him stay, like Rosie Henderson.
“I didn’t have a mom so, you know, like that’s why I called her Mama Rose or Auntie Rose, you know. I love this lady right here, and I protect her so when I’m out here I’m a protector,” he told Spectrum News 1.
Henderson has a family, but when she started protesting, she never imagined over 130 days later she’d have a second one.
“I couldn’t imagine this many people that I’ve done grow to love and, you know, like they’re my own blood relatives,” Henderson said. “I'm grateful that I’ve met all sorts of people that I wouldn’t of never met. So I’m grateful for that, but I do want some peace, and I want some healing because I’m tired.”
Another thing that puts a smile on many faces at the square is free food, and there is plenty of it.
Paul Garder is one of the original cooks that has been whipping up free meals for everyone, from the homeless to the protesters and everyone in-between because he can’t march due to surgery in June.
“I love when all Black people and white people come together. Like yesterday, it had to be over 1,000 people down here in the square. Mostly white. And that makes my heart proud…that the whole city come together, knowing what’s going on, and knowing there wasn’t no justice because the way they killed this girl,” Garrett said.
Garrett estimates he has served over 30,000 meals since May based on supplies, and the budget he’s had. The 65-year-old said he’ll keep dishing up the free daily meals until justice is served on all fronts.
“Until the people aren’t hungry no more. I’m cooking until the people are fed; till the people got jobs, got housing. You know, have things that they need,” Garrett explained.
On Fridays and Saturdays, licensed massage therapist Reginique Jones gives free massages because she said it’s a tense situation at Jefferson Square Park, especially after the Attorney General’s announcement.
“It’s not about the money. It’s strictly about helping fellow protesters and anybody else that comes along,” Jones said, who said she considers herself first and foremost a protester while at Jefferson Square Park and then a massage therapist.
Garrett said changing minds with kindness, like giving free hair cuts, is what he wants to do for the rest of his life.
“Because it means something. You know, the people that I met, like this is longtime relationships,” Garrett said.