Karika Nelson of Bowling Green, founder of BG Freedom Walkers, leads a protest against the scheduled speaking appearance of former Louisville police officer John Mattingly on Tuesday in Bowling Green. Mattingly is one of the officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor in 2020. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Austin Anthony)
Following criticism that he would have been speaking alongside one of the police officers who participated in the deadly raid on Breonna Taylor’s apartment, Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Ryan Quarles has opted to reschedule an event in Bowling Green with a local Republican women’s group.
Over the weekend, the Republican Women’s Club of South Central KY advertised a flier with Quarles, the current commissioner of agriculture, as a speaker for a Tuesday evening event. Another speaker was Sgt. John Mattingly, a retired Louisville Metro Police officer who was one of three who fired shots during the raid of Breonna Taylor’s home in Louisville in 2020.
Taylor’s death sparked protests in Louisville and around the country and became a touchstone in the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a Tuesday morning email to the Kentucky Lantern, the Republican Women’s Club of South Central KY said the group had received word from Quarles’ campaign that he would reschedule his appearance with the club to a later date.
The email included a message from Quarles: “I, like other candidates running for Governor, have been invited to introduce myself to this group. I was invited independently of other speakers and due to the controversial nature of another speaker at this event, we have decided to reschedule to a later date.”
A spokesperson for Quarles’ campaign confirmed the statement.
The women’s club has since deleted its initial Facebook post about the event, but critics on Twitter have shared the original flier and criticized the appearance.
“From Till to Taylor, the extreme right has a legacy of traumatizing & ridiculing POC when innocent black folk are murdered, but this is abhorrent. Apparently the worth of a murdered innocent black woman is a country club dinner at $40 per person, tax & tip included,” wrote Colmon Elridge, the chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party.
A Bowling Green organization, BG Freedom Walkers, shared on Facebook details for a protest to occur around the time of the Tuesday event.
Taylor died from gunshots fired by police.
Since the raid, Mattingly released a book, “12 Seconds In The Dark: A Police Officer’s Firsthand Account of the Breonna Taylor Raid,” with the book publishing arm of conservative media company, the Daily Wire. The company was created by Ben Shapiro and Jeremy Boreing. Mattingly, who suffered a gunshot wound during the raid, was cleared of any wrongdoing related to Taylor’s death by an internal LMPD investigation of potential policy violations, the Courier-Journal previously reported.
In a Monday statement, the club said it is “open to people of all races, religions and ages. One of the objectives of our organization is to educate members regarding community issues and topics of political, social and financial concern. Sometimes these issues can be controversial and complex.” It continued to say that Mattingly will give his account of the raid in Taylor’s home.
“These events may be controversial however, we believe Sgt. Mattingly has the right to share his experience,” the statement said. “Other individuals with firsthand experience relating to this case are welcome to request an opportunity to speak to our organization as well.”
Other gubernatorial candidates, such as Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft, have spoken to the club recently.
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