Local event sparks controversy, protest; gubernatorial candidate backs out of event

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Protesters gathered in downtown Bowling Green Tuesday night after a controversial speaker was invited to present tonight at the Bowling Green Country Club. 

What exactly did the protest stem from?

The Republican Women’s Club of South Central Kentucky’s Tuesday night dinner buffet planned to feature one of the officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor. 

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly was set to speak about his book, “12 Seconds In The Dark: A Police Officer’s Firsthand Account Of The Breonna Taylor Raid.”

Fellow scheduled guest speaker, Commissioner of Agriculture and Governor hopeful Ryan Quarles rescheduled his appearance due to “the controversial nature of another speaker at this event.”

Eventually, Bowling Green Country Club dissolved the event.

Grateful for Quarles and Bowling the Country Club’s decisions, the BG Freedom Walkers still protested, chanting “Say her name,” “Say her name.”

BG Freedom Walkers President and Founder Karika Nelson said, “We want to keep her name and legacy alive, so just say her name: Breonna Taylor.”

Nelson lead the protesters as they marched from the Riverwalk to the Louisville RiverView Drive intersection.

“We wanted The City of Bowling Green to know that we’re here for Breonna Taylor,” Nelson continued. “We are her voice, and she still deserves justice. It’s just disrespectful. It’s disheartening. It’s distasteful that the Republican Party would want to bring a murderer into our home. Into our community, into our city.”

Protestor Teresa Christmas said, “No one should try to justify her death because there was nothing found in the justice system that could give us any reason why she could have died, why she should have died. I’m here because of justice.”

The Republican Women’s Club of South Central Kentucky, who organized the event, says, “These events may be controversial. However, we believe Sgt. Mattingly has the right to share his experience. Other individuals with firsthand experience relating to this case are welcome to request an opportunity to speak to our organization as well. No word yet on if this event will be rescheduled.”

We have also received a statement from the Bowling Green chapter of the NAACP. They tell us they are, “deeply troubled by reports that a local organization is hosting a meeting with one of the individuals who was a part of the no-knock warrant shooting that caused the death of Breonna Taylor….This is an abominable and disrespectful act which shows a disturbing lack of empathy and understanding of the gravity of this situation.’