FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – There’s a simple explanation why teachers were allowed to protest inside the Capitol this spring and the Poor People’s Campaign was not allowed to protest inside in three separate rallies, Kentucky State Police said.
The Poor People’s Campaign only applied for a permit that let them use the front steps of the Capitol while the teachers filled out the proper paperwork to demonstrate inside the building.
KSP spokesman Sgt. Josh Lawson said the process is in place for a reason. “De-confliction,” he said. “It’s the same thing as reserving a picnic pavilion at a park, to avoid conflicts in usage of the facility.”
Lawson said it helps the KSP keep order on events happening inside the Capitol building. “We wouldn’t want someone holding a press conference inside the Capitol to be interrupted by another group while their event is underway.”
The State Historic Properties Commission each Friday sends out a weekly schedule of Capitol Campus events. The last release listed the Poor People’s Campaign on the lower front steps of the Capitol on Monday, with setup at 1:30 p.m. and the rally from 2-3 p.m. It also showed a Kentucky State Police Cadet graduation practice from 2:30-4:30 p.m. in the Rotunda. The graduation ceremony is Thursday evening.
During the Poor People’s Campaign rally on May 17, more than a dozen refused to leave the Capitol when it closed at 4:30 p.m. and spent the night inside. At another rally, they chalked outlines of bodies on the pavement outside the Governor’s Mansion.
“We didn’t arrest anyone, we didn’t cite anyone, even though they could have been charged with criminal trespassing and criminal mischief,” Lawson said.
Lawson also confirmed what another state official had said earlier that a suggestion was made to members of the Poor People’s Campaign last week that they fill out the proper papers to hold Monday’s event inside as the Rotunda had not been reserved. They declined, insisting on holding the event on the steps of the Capitol.
When they tried to come inside as a group, Kentucky State Police Facilities Security officers told the protesters that only two members at a time would be allowed inside and, when those two left, two more would be admitted.
Last week, Rev. Dr. William Barber, national head of the Poor People’s Campaign, said last week that they had attorneys looking into whether there could be possible legal action due to the restrictions, which they considered unconstitutional, but members of the campaign on Monday said there was no decision made.
Monday was the sixth and final weekly protest by the Poor People’s Campaign on the Capitol grounds in Frankfort. Participants will travel to Washington, D.C., throughout the week for trainings and actions culminating in a massive rally at the U.S. Capitol June 23 to launch the second phase of the campaign. Buses will leave Louisville, Bowling Green and Lexington on Friday for the national march.