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Louisville braces for protests ahead of Kentucky Derby

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Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesBY: SAMARA LYNN, ABC NEWS    

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — As the Kentucky Derby is set to get underway Saturday afternoon, the city of Louisville is bracing for anticipated protests from far-right activists and those calling for justice in the aftermath of Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting by Louisville, Kentucky, police.

So far, counter-protesters are gathering near Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held, for what they call a “patriotic event” and plan to march from an area park to a courthouse.

Several Louisville officials have weighed on on the city’s plans for protests.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer posted on Twitter that “since protests began we’ve seen rumors & misinformation circulating on social media, causing unnecessary worry. [Louisville Metro Police] has a plan and is ready for Kentucky Derby day.”

The city of Louisville posted its plans for dealing with protests on Derby Day on its official website. In the statement, the city said it “fully supports First Amendment rights” but “If activities become unlawful, LMPD has plans in place and is prepared to handle the situation.”

“If people are blocking traffic, creating dangerous conditions on our roadways or trespassing on private property against the wishes of the property owner, the police will cite and/or arrest them. Anyone committing violence or vandalism will be arrested,” the statement reads.

Since Taylor’s death on March 13, when she was shot after three undercover Louisville officers, Myles Cosgrove, Brett Hankison and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, executed a no-knock warrant at the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, Louisville and other cities across the nation have become hotbeds of protests and counter-protests.

In July, three members of an armed militia were shot in an apparent accident at a protest calling for justice for Taylor in Louisville.

In June, Steven Nelson Lopez who was reported as having a history of mental illness and homelessness, allegedly opened fire into a crowd of protesters in Louisville, Kentucky’s, Jefferson Square Park. 27-year-old Tyler Gerth was killed.

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