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‘Gone rogue:’ More than 200 turn out to protest Royalty’s recent actions

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

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Councilwoman Kecia Copeland said as head of the City of Bardstown, Mayor John Royalty has “gone rogue.”

Sunday, May 24, 2016, 9 p.m. (UPDATED, Video added, 11:58 p.m.) — A rally to protest Bardstown Mayor John Royalty’s recent restructuring of the city police department without consulting with its chief attracted more than 250 people to the Nelson Justice Center Sunday evening.

The rally had a picnic-like atmosphere as people arrived and sought out shady areas under the trees in the justice center parking lot.

Organizer Casey Lowe ticked off the controversial issues the mayor had created during his 16 months in office, including the ending of the joint city-county recreation department, the split of the fire departments, and finally, the restructuring of the police department.

Lowe said Royalty went behind McCubbin’s back to make the restructuring happen and demoted Police Chief Rick McCubbin’s leadership team.

“It’s sad to lose our backbone of the city because of the mayor’s impulsive decisions,” he said.

Councilwoman Kecia Copeland and Councilman Francis Lydian were the only members of the city council to attend the rally.

“I’m sure there were other councilmen who wanted to be here but for what ever reason they’re not,” she told the crowd. “But that’s not the way I operate. I do not work for the mayor, I work for the people of Bardstown.”

Bardstown is no longer acting like the most beautiful small town in America, she said.

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Louis Ballard took a break from gathering petition signatures to speak to the assembled crowd.

“Right now we have someone who has gone rogue, and we should not stand for it,” she said of the mayor.

She was critical of the pinning ceremony of two Bardstown Police officers earlier in the day, a promotion ceremony which was done without the council’s knowledge

She said that McCubbin was “the trigger for the heartbeat for the city. He was true leadership.”

Copeland called for rally participants to remain united.

“We should not let anyone deter us from doing what needs to be done,” she said. “Don’t let it end here, keep it going.”

She encouraged the protesters to attend Tuesday’s Bardstown City Council meeting.

“We need your presence,” she said. “Fill that parking lot up and let them know you mean business.

“I ask you to continue to reach out to the city council members and tell them what you want,” she said. “Demand their presence because they owe it to you because you voted them in.”

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The other side of Richard Caldwell’s protest sign states “Leadership with no checks and balances is Un-American”

Louis Ballard was collecting signature for a petition asking the city council to take action regarding the mayor, and he took a few moments to address the crowd.

“Never in my life have I seen people so galvanized in opposition of this mayor,” he said. “Almost from the time he took office, he’s gone about the process of making enemies.”

Ballard’s petition asks the city council to investigate and determine if the mayor acted improperly in his treatment of police officers and may be guilty of misconduct.

The petition “is also to remind the mayor who his boss is — and its us.”

Rev. Jewel Brock, an associate minister at the First Baptist Church of Bardstown, told the crowd that he has witnessed a lot of unity among the races in Bardstown but expressed concern the division attributed to the mayor could affect that.

“I believe with this mayor we have and some of his clones, its going to cause a racial disturbance in this city,” he said. “We don’t really need that, we’ve been doing fine as a community of different races, creed and color, we’ve gotten along fine.”

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