(Headline USA) Authorities pleaded for calm while activists vowed to fight on Thursday in Kentucky’s largest city, where a gunman wounded two police officers during violent protests following the decision not to charge officers for killing Breonna Taylor.
Outrage over a grand jury’s failure to bring homicide charges against the officers who burst into the black woman’s apartment six months ago set off a new round of riots Wednesday in several American cities. The state attorney general said the investigation showed officers acted in self-defense when they returned gunfire from Taylor’s boyfriend.
Louisville officers declared an unlawful assembly after they said fires were set in garbage cans, several vehicles were damaged and stores were broken into. A 26-year-old man was arrested and charged with firing multiple gunshots at police and wounding two officers.
“Violence will only be a source of pain, not a cure for pain,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Many see Breonna Taylor’s case as both the tragic death of a young woman and the continuation of a long pattern of devaluation and violence that black women and men face in our country, as they have historically.”
“The question obviously is: What do we do with this pain?” the mayor asked. “There is no one answer, no easy answer to that question.”
Activists, celebrities and everyday Americans have called for charges against police since Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by officers after one of them was fired upon and wounded by her boyfriend while conducting a raid in a narcotics investigation in March.
The officers had a no-knock warrant, but the investigation showed they announced themselves before entering, said state Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The warrant was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.
Along with George Floyd, a black man who died during a confrontation with police in Minneapolis, Taylor’s name became a rallying cry during nationwide riots this summer that called attention to alleged systemic racism and demanded police reform, while torching businesses and vandalizing both private and public property.
Activists said they would press on with their calls for justice after a single officer was charged Wednesday with wanton endangerment for shooting into apartments neighboring Taylor’s.
“In our distress, we reaffirm our dedication to the eradication of systemic racism in our city,” the group Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice said in a statement. “We will keep showing up, speaking up, and joining the movement for systemic change led by black people.”
Louisville interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said the two officers shot during protests were “doing well and will survive their injuries.”
Maj. Aubrey Gregory, a Louisville officer for more than 20 years, was shot in the hip and was treated and released from the hospital. Officer Robinson Desroches, who joined the force 18 months ago, was shot in the abdomen and underwent surgery. Schroeder said he was in stable condition.
Larynzo D. Johnson, 26, was charged in the shootings with two counts of assault on a police officer and multiple charges of wanton endangerment of police officers. An arrest citation said police had video of Johnson shooting at officers as they tried to disperse a crowd. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.
In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned the violence in his home state and called the officers’ shootings acts of “despicable cowardice that must be met with the full force of the law.”
The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in connection with the raid at Taylor’s home.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.