Breonna Taylor protests: Police use flash bangs hours before curfew in Louisville; mayor says violence ‘will not be tolerated’

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Breonna Taylor protests: Police use flash bangs hours before curfew in Louisville; mayor says violence ‘will not be tolerated’

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hundreds of protesters again gathered in downtown Louisville on Friday for another night of protests to honor Breonna Taylor and demand justice for her death.

About two hours before the city’s 9 p.m. curfew went into effect, a clash between police and protesters had already occurred as police used flash bangs to disperse a crowd, briefly blocked the route of a march, arrested at least one person and declared an an unlawful assembly

Dozens of demonstrators later regrouped as a leader urged those remaining to go home before a 9 p.m. curfew began. Some, but not all, left.

Some downtown Louisville business have chosen to close through weekend due to damage caused during the ongoing protests. A citywide curfew, criticized by The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, went into effect Wednesday and will run from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. each day until Monday morning.

After Wednesday’s announcement that no officers would be indicted for Taylor’s death, peaceful protests escalated: windows were smashed, small fires set and two police officers were shot.

Earlier Friday, members of Taylor’s family and their attorneys called on Kentucky’s attorney general to release the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings.

Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician, was killed shortly before 1 a.m. on March 13 when officers came to her apartment looking for drugs and cash as part of a larger narcotics investigation connected to her former boyfriend. She was shot six times. 

A grand jury on Wednesday indicted former Louisville officer Brett Hankison on wanton endangerment charges for firing 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment and an adjoining unit where three people were present. Hankison was fired in June. 

While Louisville has been an epicenter for protests calling for racial justice this week, cities around the country have seen demonstrations as well.

On Thursday night one person was hurt when a truck ran into a small crowd of people protesting police brutality in Los Angeles, authorities said. Meanwhile, Portland is beefing up law enforcement ahead of a weekend rally by the right-wing group Proud Boys and counter protests by liberal groups. 

Louisville Congressman condemns police for arresting Attica Scott

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Louisville Democrat, took to Twitter Friday afternoon to criticize the Louisville Metro Police for arresting state Rep. Attica Scott Thursday evening and for charging her with first-degree rioting.

Scott “has done more to lift our community up and bring us together in recent weeks than many in Frankfort seem to get done in entire terms of service,” Yarmuth said.

“To accost, accuse, arrest, & charge her with setting fire to a library of all things—apparently minutes before the curfew was even in effect—is as stupid as it is untrue. Using guilt by association as grounds for arrest is yet another reason why the system needs profound change.”

.@atticascott4ky has done more to lift our community up and bring us together in recent weeks than many in Frankfort seem to get done in entire terms of service.

— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) September 25, 2020

Louisville mayor: Violence ‘will not be tolerated’

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Friday that “violence and destruction will not be tolerated” during a media briefing.

“I know that most protesters continue to be peaceful and lawful,” Fischer said. “But I want to caution the peaceful protesters: If you’re in a group where disruptive and violent behavior is happening, you need to separate from that group, or you will be subject to arrest.”

Damage done to Louisville library, police report looting

Due to damage being done Thursday night, an unlawful assembly was declared prior to curfew, said Louisville Metro Police Department interim chief of police Robert Schroeder. 

Schroeder said police responded to broken windows and the tossing of a flare into a Louisville public library downtown. During that time, protesters gathered nearby at First Unitarian Church, where the church allowed them to stay.

Schroeder said police kept the area secured as assessed the library. Once that was completed, police and protesters worked together to establish a plan so that protesters could leave the church.

Schroeder said that once protest activity had concluded for the evening, there were several incidents of looting throughout Jefferson County. He said police responded to 15 burglaries and one hold up of a business.

“Once again I’m asking the community to adhere to the curfew put in place to minimize this type of criminal activity,” Schroeder said. That curfew, which went into effect Wednesday, will run from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. each day until Monday morning.

Suspect accused of shooting Louisville officers pleads not guilty; bond set at $1 million 

Larynzo Johnson, the man accused of shooting and injuring two Louisville Metro Police Department officers amid protests Wednesday night, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday morning.

Johnson, 26, is charged with two counts of first-degree assault on a police officer and 14 counts of wanton endangerment related to a police officer. 

Bond was set at $1 million, up from the initial amount of $750,000, said R. Zachary Meihaus, an attorney who represented Johnson for the arraignment only. He added that Johnson will be appointed a public defender. 

Meihaus declined to comment on the merits of the case, but he pointed to the different ways Johnson and the three officers involved in the Breonna Taylor shooting have been treated by the criminal justice system.

“The level of care and investigation that was given to the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s shooting prior to any indictments coming down, if Larynzo Johnson was afforded that same courtesy, he would not be sitting in custody charged the 14 counts of wanton endangerment, two counts of assault (first degree) with a $1 million bond,” he said. “I mean, that’s about the most I can tell you. And that’s how I feel.”

– Lucas Aulbach and Matt Mencarini 

Kentucky lawmaker released from jail 

A high-profile Louisville Democratic state lawmaker and a well-known Black activist were released from jail Friday morning after police arrested them Thursday night during Breonna Taylor protests in downtown Louisville.

State Rep. Attica Scott and Shameka Parrish-Wright are charged with first-degree rioting — a felony — along with failure to disperse and unlawful assembly, both misdemeanors.

“The allegations are outrageous on their face,” said Ted Shouse, Parrish-Wright’s lawyer.

Police arrested at least 24 protesters, the department said late Thursday. All but one of them were arrested near the Louisville Free Public Library downtown, where around 9 p.m., someone broke a window and threw a flare into the building, Courier Journal reporter Sarah Ladd said. 

Shouse said neither Parrish-Wright nor Scott had anything to do damaging the library.

“If you arrest the loudest voices fighting racial injustice in Louisville, we have to believe you want to silence the fight against racial injustice,” State Rep. Josie Raymond tweeted Thursday night, calling for Scott and Parrish-Wright to be released. 

Scott — who is sponsoring a bill to end no-knock warrants like the one used the night Taylor was shot and killed by police in Kentucky — has been a frequent presence at demonstrations throughout the summer. 

Parrish-Wright is a leader for the Louisville chapter of the Bail Project, which has helped protesters post bond and get out of jail over the past four months of demonstrations.

– Olivia Krauth 

Contributing: N’dea Yancey-Bragg and Andrew Wolfson; The Associated Press

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