FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders said participants in the Poor People's Campaign that staged a series of protests at the state Capitol in recent weeks asked to be arrested.
However, in an op-ed distributed to Kentucky newspapers on Wednesday, Sanders said the state police security detail declined the requests, instead opting to go "out of our way to be accommodating."
The Poor People’s Campaign came to the Capitol three times in the last four weeks, each time trying to move their demonstration inside the Capitol, even though they hadn't obtained a permit to do so. Sanders said the group was not being arbitrarily kept from access, as some have suggested.
The security detail followed longstanding protocol by allowing protestors to enter the Capitol building two at a time.
Protesters alleged they were treated unfairly by not being permitted to go into the Capitol as a group, saying others, including a massive crowd of demonstrating teachers, have been allowed to do so this year. However, Sanders said teachers had filled the proper permit paperwork.
Sanders said participants in the Poor People's Campaign had blocked traffic around the Capitol, refused to leave the Capitol building after closing time, and breached a fence surrounding the Governor’s Mansion.
Additional security was deployed when the protesters unlawfully spent the night at the Capitol on May 21, forcing the the state police to pull troopers from highway patrols in area communities, he said.
Sanders said the state police works with dozens of groups each year to ensure the First Amendment right to safely and securely assemble at the State Capitol.
“However, these groups must exercise their rights in good faith, abiding by established facility rules — rules that are in place for the protection of state workers, the preservation of historic facilities, and the safety of the general public (including protestors),” Sanders said.