GRAYSON, Ky. - The rain was coming down hard and cool Thursday as perpetual protester Denorver “Dee” Garrett stood in front of the Kentucky Christian University Lusby Center.
Garrett, made infamous locally due to a series of high-tension racial justice marches in Grayson over the summer and nationally due to getting punched by a Louisville police officer, came back to his alma mater to list grievances he held against the institution and the town surrounding it.
On April 18, Facebook video footage showed Garrett being taken to the ground by Louisville Metro Police and being punched in the face multiple times.
Still sporting a shiner — and having filed a lawsuit the day prior in Jefferson County Circuit Court — Garrett returned to voice accusations that the university’s president and Grayson's mayor got together to run him out of his senior year.
Garrett told The Daily Independent he'd be filing a lawsuit against the town and the university, but when pressed he admitted he hadn’t filed it yet.
According to Garrett, a convicted sex offender, he was carrying his cross in the middle of the road when he was surrounded by 10 LMPD officers. When they attempted to arrest him, Garrett said they were unable to get the cuffs on him due to his size.
That’s when they took him to the ground and one officer landed a few haymakers to his face, according to Garrett.
“They tried to say I was resisting arrest, but I was just exercising my First Amendment right,” he said. “We all got a right to protest, but when your voice gets too powerful, they want to attack it.”
Garrett further claimed his arrest prompted the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to initiate its investigation into the LMPD policing practices. However, published comments from U.S. AG Merrick Garland stated that the investigation will be into widespread, systemic practices and only briefly cited the Breonna Taylor case.
Garrett was neither named in the remarks, nor was his situation even alluded to. However, the AG did mention looking into how LMPD handles protests in general.
“The investigation will assess whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force, including with respect to people invovled in peaceful expressive activities,” Garland said.
Standing in front of the Lusby Center, Garrett claimed he’d been persecuted by the school and the town for shedding light on racial injustice. At least one individual who arrived at the school with Garrett remained inside his pickup truck the entire time.
Garrett tried to call over some minority students to listen to his message, but they instead shook their heads and walked away.
Kim Roar arrived around 2 p.m. to support Garrett. The Grayson resident said Garrett saved her life. On June 13, 2020, she had been battling suicidal thoughts when she saw Garrett preaching at a street corner in town. She said Garrett baptized her and her husband in their swimming pool that night. Garrett has been her “brother,” she said, ever since.
At one point Thursday, Grayson Police arrived on the scene, but merely walked past Garrett’s ranting and raving to speak with Donald Damron, Vice President of Student Services Donald Damron inside his office. Damron initially spoke with Garrett at the front door before going inside for the remainder of the 29-year-old’s one-man protest with a bullhorn.
The crux of Garrett’s argument is that KCU engages in discriminatory practices by recruiting Black athletes to play for the school, then hitting them with fines and reprimands for engaging in less than Christian activities.
However, when asked for specific instances of this practice, Garrett said the school would fine someone for keeping a condom in their room.
Garrett said he was pushed out due to his rabble-rousing over the summer, but had the support of his former teammates on the school’s football team. However, not a single player on the team turned out to support Garrett — several instead stayed upstairs at the Lusby Center until Garrett left in his truck.
Casual conversations with folks at the university revealed Garrett had little to no support and that grievances he brought up had little basis in reality.
When asked why doesn’t he just move on with his life and leave Grayson and KCU behind, Garrett said he wants to fight for his fellow student-athletes because he felt like his “civil rights were violated.” Garrett also said he will be back in less than two weeks for a graduation ceremony.
Garrett brought up the racial slurs that were hurled at him during his first protest in Grayson, claiming that was also a First Amendment violation. Garrett was unclear how the conduct of counter-protesters in Grayson on Main Street tied into what the university is alleged to have done.
Damron declined to offer comment on Garrett’s grievances. A number for an attorney Garrett said he hired to file the suit went straight to voicemail with a full mailbox. Mayor George Steele, who Garrett implicated among his accusations, did not return a call, either.