There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.

Charles de Secondat


The weather forecast for the May 5th and May 6th, 2017 Kentucky Derby festivities was up in the air at best.  But that made little difference to police brutality survivor Antwynette Houston whose commitment to protest the City of Louisville for its failure to negotiate a fair outcome of her police brutality case was very evident.

Antwynette Houston braves the cold weather during her 2017 Kentucky Derby protest. Photo Courtesy: beenetworknews / A. Houston .

Both days Houston braved unseasonably cloudy and cold weather accompanied by steady rain along with temperatures ranging from the mid 40’s to 50’s over the two-day period with moments of bright sunshine between the rains.

A typical temperature around this time of year is in the 70’s.  With the aid of heaters on her porch, she staked out a position and refused to be deterred.

It was last year on May 7th of 2016 that Antwynette Houston first shared her story with visitors attending the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby.  Her petition on Change.org drew support from people living in France, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, South Africa, Ireland, South Korea, Grenada and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Residents living in states such as; New York, California, North Carolina, Kentucky, District of Columbia, Missouri, Texas, Maryland, Idaho, Indiana, Virginia, Washington, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Minnesota, Illinois, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, Mississippi, Nebraska, Louisiana, West Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts and Nevada supported her as well and continue to do so.  All expressed one simple sentiment – that Justice for Houston and her son should be immediate; and that the emotional, physical and financial burden unfairly placed on them end with a fair and just result.

It was the early morning of August 3, 2013, around 3 a.m. when Houston was attacked by former Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officer Scott Sturgeon who was off duty at the time of the incident.  She had just returned from an out-of-town funeral and stopped at a gas station for a snack on the way home.  Her son who was nine-years-old at the time was sleeping in the backseat.

The incident stemmed from a verbal altercation over a parking space, which was initiated by the police officer. The end result was that the officer completely separated her shoulder creating a rare injury known as Quadrilateral space syndrome  accompanied by other severe injuries.  To date she has had four surgical operations on her shoulder and continues to struggle with pain and limited use of her arm.

Houston (right) takes a moment with her mom (left) during recent Kentucky Derby protest. Photo Courtesy: beenetworknews / A. Houston

I asked Ms. Houston why was it important for her to protest both the 2016 and 2017 Kentucky Derby’s?  She said, “I’m protesting because nothing has changed.  The city still hasn’t done anything to rectify my situation, my petition is still going forward, and I felt like I had to come back out here to continue to share my story till something changes.  Until then it’s my duty to be here every year.”  She further stated, “the event known as the “Greatest Two minutes” in sports used to be something I attended, worked, and supported many times in years past.”

Ms. Houston went on to say, “The city is not about what they say they are, right now the Mayor promotes Louisville as a compassionate city.  There’s nothing compassionate about this city.  It’s just him saying it’s a compassionate city.  They’re not showing any compassion to the people who live here.  He’s just making that statement, that’s it!  It’s a bunch of people saying this is a compassionate city.  But I haven’t seen any compassion.  I think if they were going to give compassion to anybody they would’ve given it to a woman and a child that was completely innocent and had been done wrong.  And if they didn’t do it – the thing that I always say is and it’s the truth, if all you do is do right while everybody is looking then you don’t do right.  I mean you just don’t.  People who are interested in really doing right, they do it when no one is looking. They do it all the time and this City isn’t doing that.  So there’s nothing compassionate about this city.”

Houston (left) is joined by her son (middle) and her mother (right) as traffic passes by. Photo Courtesy: beenetworknews / A. Houston

Ms. Houston expressed concern about the extent to which this case has impacted her twelve-year-old son adding, “I don’t know how he really feels about what we’re doing.  I know he understands why we’re doing it, but I don’t know if he totally gets it at his age.”  Just like last year “this protest was important to do because it allowed my message to remain consistent so that my son would understand the merits of our effort.  I’ve taught him that we stand on principle even when no one else stands with us.  Doing the right thing often takes courage.  Sometimes no one will stand with you.  But you still stand and do what’s right.”

Houston believes that her situation would have been difficult even for Muhammad Ali if he had not been a celebrity athlete, but instead just a regular black man.  She stated, ” We do live in Kentucky and its a racist culture here in so many ways.  The powerful don’t care about blacks.  The only reason they cared about him was because he was an athlete, we see that all the time.  knowing what I know now he wouldn’t be important.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him treated the same way I’m treated, he’d be just a regular old black guy.”

It’s a fact that historically, deep segregation and racism existed in Louisville.  It was that very racism accompanied by two incidents; a New York Times report saying that Ali was publicly referred to in Louisville as ‘the Olympic ni**er, and a restaurant incident where he was refused service because of his skin color that caused a young 18-year-old Cassius Clay to go to the Second Street bridge and hurl his medal into the Ohio River.

Some Louisville citizens believe the city has come a long way since then, but others feel the city hasn’t come far enough.  Houston and her supporters believe the latter.

When asked about what action she would like to see the City of Louisville take on her behalf, Houston said, “They need to go ahead and give me what I’ve asked for and pay my case out.  Then I will go on about my way.  I’ll still talk about it and let people know that it happened.  But they need to go ahead and pay for all the damage to make me whole again, that’s what they need to do and then some.”


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    […] year was no different and her protest of the 143rd Kentucky Derby was another moral victory for Houston.  She said it was important for her to protest both the 2016 […]


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