Police in Louisville, Ky., say an officer has been shot. It’s not clear if the officer was shot during the protests over a grand jury’s decision to bring no charges against police for the killing of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong.
Police Sgt. Lamont Washington said in a news release Wednesday night that there would be an update when possible.
Protesters have been marching through the streets, scuffles have broken out between police and protesters, and some demonstrators were arrested.
Officers in riot gear fired flashbangs and a few small fires burned in a square that’s been at the centre of protests, but it had largely cleared out ahead of a nighttime curfew and demonstrators marched through other parts of downtown Louisville.
Crowds of varying sizes were also gathering in New York, Washington, Atlanta and Chicago.
The protests, which rekindled as soon as news of the grand jury’s decision broke Wednesday afternoon, were largely peaceful through the day. Still, streets in downtown Louisville were cleared of cars and many businesses were boarded up well ahead of the announcement.
As the afternoon wore on, police in protective gear clashed with the growing number of protesters in some areas and used batons to push some of them down. Officers detained at least four people, who sat on the ground with their wrists bound behind them. As television cameras broadcast the scene live, a protester pointed at an officer and shouted: “Say her name!” An Associated Press reporter saw National Guard members and armoured military vehicles in downtown Louisville.
“Yes, it’s a bit extreme right now,” said Dekevion Gause, who sat beside a park memorial to Taylor made of flowers, paintings, and tiny grave markers representing Black people killed by police. “But it’s a volcano built up and now it’s exploded.”
Gause said all of the officers involved in the March 13 raid on Taylor’s home should have been charged with manslaughter.
“It’s kind of a slap in the face,” he said of the grand jury’s decision.
Gause gathered with dozens in Jefferson Square Park, dubbed “Injustice Square” by protesters who made it their impromptu hub during months of demonstrations. People huddled around a single speaker Wednesday to listen as prosecutors announced that fired police officer Brett Hankinson had been charged with wanton endangerment for firing into the homes of Taylor’s neighbours.
WATCH | Kentucky attorney general discusses evidence in shooting:
A grand jury brought no charges for killing Taylor, who was shot multiple times by police who burst into her home March 13 during a drug raid gone wrong. While there were no drugs in Taylor’s apartment, her boyfriend shot and wounded a police officer. State Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the officers’ shots that killed Taylor were fired in self-defence.
Upon hearing the news, many gathered in the square began to cry, expressing confusion and sorrow. Others exclaimed they had seen this coming.
Within minutes of the announcement, about 100 demonstrators marched from Jefferson Square along the downtown thoroughfare of Sixth Street chanting: “No justice, no peace!”
Many simply sat or stood in stunned silence after hearing the grand jury’s decision.
Jefferson Square became the epicentre of Louisville residents’ outrage over the killing of Taylor, who became a national symbol of racial injustice much like George Floyd, the Black man who died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Cameron, a Republican and Kentucky’s first Black attorney general, insisted prosecutors had followed the law even though “my heart breaks for Miss Taylor.”
“Criminal law is not meant to respond to every sorrow and grief,” Cameron said after the charges were announced.
For months, many actors, musicians, sports stars and public figures have been outspoken in calling for justice in the police killing of Taylor.
Dozens of NBA players, within the Disney bubble and outside of it have been seeking charges in Taylor’s death and have used their platforms to speak about her and place the 26-year-old’s name front and centre, above sports.
“We have moms. We have sisters, nieces, aunties. And just like men of colour have experienced traumatic instances, so have women,” Boston forward Jaylen Brown said. “That is an example of some things that happen to women in our country. So, we wanted to stand alongside them, but also make it that it’s not just us. I think the future is female, so it’s important to show our sisters that we care. That’s why it’s been important.”
Laker’s guard Danny Green told the Associated Press that players feel that they’ve “taken a step back” and “haven’t made the progress we were seeking.”
“Our voices aren’t being heard loud enough. But we’re not going to stop. We’re going to continue. We’re going to continue fighting, we’re going to continue to push, we’re going to continue to use our voices,” he said.
Football legend Colin Kaepernick also slammed the grand jury’s decision, expressing outrage on Twitter Wednesday when he called for police to be abolished.
“”The white supremacist institution of policing that stole Breonna Taylor’s life from us must be abolished for the safety and well being of our people. #BreonnaTaylor #SayHerName #AbolishThePolice,” he said.