Sunday, December 3, 2023

Protesters Take to Streets over Breonna Taylor; 24 Arrested

'We can still get some justice....'

(Headline USA) Louisville police in riot gear barricaded roads and cars honked as the crowd marched past a nighttime curfew during a second night of protests over the refusal of Kentucky state officials to prosecute officers in the death of Breonna Taylor.

Officers also blocked the exits of a church where protesters gathered to avoid arrest for violating the curfew.

Several people were detained, including state Rep. Attica Scott, a Louisville Democrat. Scott unveiled legislation recently that would ban the use of no-knock search warrants in Kentucky. The measure, called Breonna’s Law in honor of Taylor, also would require drug and alcohol testing of officers involving in shootings and deadly incidents and require that body cameras be worn during the execution of all search warrants.

Police eventually pulled back late Thursday after negotiating with demonstrators to end the protest.

At least 24 people were arrested as of 1 a.m. Friday, police said. Protesters broke windows at a restaurant, damaged city buses, tried to set a fire and threw a flare into the street.

Earlier, it got heated between some protesters and a group of 12 to 15 armed white people, but it didn’t turn physical.

Some of the protesters raised their fists and called out “black lives matter!” Others tended to the letters, flowers and signs grouped together in a square downtown.

People dismayed that the officers who shot the black woman in her apartment during a drug raid last March wouldn’t be charged with her death vowed to persist in their fight for justice.

“We’ve got to take it lying down that the law won’t protect us, that they can get away with killing us,” said Lavel White, a regular protester in downtown Louisville who is black.

He was drawn to a march Thursday night because he was devastated by a grand jury’s decision a day earlier not to charge the officers. “If we can’t get justice for Breonna Taylor, can we get justice for anybody?”

He was angry that police in riot gear were out in force when protesters had been peaceful as they streamed through the streets of downtown Louisville past a nighttime curfew. Demonstrators also gathered in places like Los Angeles where a vehicle ran through a crowd of protesters who menaced vehicles as they tried to move down streets. In Portland, Oregon — a city that has seen many protests since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis — a fire was set at a police union building.

Taylor was shot multiple times by officers after Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them, authorities said. He said he didn’t know who was coming in and opened fire in self-defense, wounding one officer.

State Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday that the investigation showed officers acted in self-defense. One officer who has already been fired was charged with firing into a neighboring apartment.

The FBI is still investigating whether Taylor’s civil rights were violated. But the burden of proof for such cases is very high, with prosecutors having to prove officers knew they were acting illegally and made a willful decision to cause someone’s death.

While there was despair after the decision in Taylor’s case, others saw reasons to hope.

Reginique Jones said she’ll keep pressing for increased police accountability and for a statewide ban on “no knock” warrants — the kind issued in the Taylor case, though the state attorney general said the investigation showed police announced themselves before busting into her apartment.

“I believe that we are going to get past this,” Jones said as she returned Thursday to the park in downtown Louisville that has been at the center of the protests. “We can still get some justice.”

Since Taylor’s killing, Louisville has taken some steps to address protesters’ concerns. In addition to the officer who was fired and later charged, three others were put on desk duty. Officials have banned no-knock warrants and hired a black woman as the permanent police chief — a first for the city, although black leaders of police forces in other cities have quit over cries to “defund the police.”

Louisville also agreed to more police reforms as it settled a lawsuit that included $12 million for Taylor’s family.

Riots broke out a night earlier. Two officers were shot and were expected to recover.

Larynzo D. Johnson, 26, was charged and he’s scheduled to be in court Friday.

The curfew in Louisville will last through the weekend, and Gov. Andy Beshear called up the National Guard for “limited missions.”

Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.

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