The Breonna Taylor protests are an ongoing series of police brutality protests surrounding the shooting of Breonna Taylor. Taylor was a 26-year-old African-American woman who was fatally shot in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment on March 13, 2020, by plainclothes officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department conducting a "no-knock" search warrant. For months after the shooting, there were demands from Taylor's family, members of the local community, and protesters worldwide that the officers involved in the shooting be fired and criminally charged.
|Breonna Taylor protests|
|Part of the 2020–21 United States racial unrest and the Black Lives Matter movement|
|Date||May 26, 2020 – present|
(2 years, 1 month and 1 week)
|Methods||Protests, demonstrations, civil disobedience, online activism|
On May 26, multiple protesters, including friends and family of Taylor, protested outside Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's office and demanded the three officers be arrested and charged with murder.
On May 27, one Louisville police sergeant said that "The comment section is full of 'All cops need to die' and 'Kill pigs' and things like that" and that several days earlier, while responding to a 911 call near Taylor's apartment, multiple people threw pieces of concrete at police officers (who were uninjured) and then ran away.
On May 28, 500 to 600 demonstrators marched in Downtown Louisville, chanting, "No justice, no peace, prosecute police!" and "Breonna, Breonna, Breonna!" The protests continued into the early morning of May 29, when seven people were shot; one was in critical condition. At the same time, Taylor's sister, Juniyah Palmer, posted on her Facebook page, "At this point y'all are no longer doing this for my sister! You guys are just vandalizing stuff for NO reason, I had a friend ask people why they are there most didn't even know the 'protest' was for my sister." These protests and demonstrations were part of the nationwide reaction to the murder of George Floyd, an African-American man who was killed in police custody on May 25, 2020.
On June 1, 2020, David McAtee, a 53-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot by the Kentucky Army National Guard in Louisville during nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd and the killing of Breonna Taylor. The Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and National Guard were in the area to enforce a curfew. According to officials, the police and soldiers were fired upon by McAtee, and two Louisville officers and two National Guardsmen returned fire. McAtee was killed by a shot fired from a guardsman. The body cams of the police involved were deactivated during the shooting, in violation of department policy. Hours later, police chief Steve Conrad was fired by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.
On June 27, Steven Lopez was arrested after firing shots on the crowd of protesters gathered at Louisville's Jefferson Square Park, killing one and injuring another. Lopez had previously taken part in the Breonna Taylor protests before the incident took place as well, but later got into arguments with other Jefferson Park protesters which resulted in at least three reported physical confrontations. Lopez was also among a group of 17 Louisville protesters who had been arrested on June 17 for inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, harassment and possession of drug paraphernalia.
On July 4, over 100 people participated in the Youth March for Freedom in downtown Louisville. The participants stopped at historical civil rights sites, and speakers called for the end of racial injustice and told the stories of the people affiliated with the sites. On July 14, the national social justice organization Until Freedom organized a march of over 100 people to Attorney General Cameron's house, where protesters occupied his lawn, demanding charges against the officers involved in the killing. Police officers and a police helicopter were present as 87 protesters, including Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills and The Real Housewives of Atlanta star Porsha Williams, were arrested and removed from the lawn.
By mid-July, there had been about 50 days of protests. According to LMPD, 435 protesters had been arrested. On July 24, protesters marched into the NuLu area of Louisville, blocked the 600 block of E. Market Street with metal barricades and set up long metal tables for an impromptu block party to highlight demands for NuLu business owners, including hiring a more proportionate number of black workers. Police cleared the street and arrested 76 protesters who refused to leave.
On July 25, 300 members of the Atlanta-based black militia NFAC (Not Fucking Around Coalition) marched to Louisville's Metro Hall with the street lined with local protesters. NFAC founder John "Grandmaster Jay" Johnson gave a speech calling on officials to speed up and be more transparent about the investigation into Taylor's death.
As of August 10, LMPD had arrested 500 protesters over 75 days of protests.
On September 23, the night after the grand jury verdict was announced, protesters gathered in the Jefferson Square Park area of Louisville as well as many other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Minneapolis, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Portland. The previous day, a state of emergency had been declared in Louisville in anticipation of the verdict announcement. In Louisville, two LMPD officers were shot during the protest and one suspect was kept in custody. Two reporters from the right-wing website The Daily Caller were arrested and charged with breaking curfew and unlawful assembly. In Buffalo, a pickup truck was driven through a crowd of protesters, striking and injuring one.
In Seattle, 13 were arrested for charges ranging from failure to disperse, obstruction, property damage, resisting arrest, and assaulting an officer. One officer was struck on the head with a baseball bat cracking his helmet. In the early morning of September 24, a Seattle Police Officer is seen in a video riding his bicycle over the head of a protester lying on the ground. As a result of a Seattle Police Department use of force investigation, an unnamed police officer was placed on administrative leave after rolling both wheels of his bicycle over the head of a protester lying in the street. The incident was referred to the King County Sheriff's Office for a potential criminal investigation.
In December, the Seattle Police Department was held in federal contempt by the U.S. District Judge Richard Jones for the "indiscriminate" use of blast balls and pepper spray during 2020 BLM protests. "On Sept. 23, an officer who was several rows back from the front of the police line threw a blast ball into a crowd, then immediately turned around, demonstrating a "clear lack of care for where the blast ball landed.""
On September 24, Kentucky state representative and former member of the Louisville Metro Council Attica Scott, the only black woman in the Kentucky General Assembly, was arrested in Louisville before the start of the curfew and spent the night in jail. Along with 17 others Scott was charged with felony first-degree rioting, misdemeanor failure to disperse and misdemeanor unlawful assembly. The charge of rioting was dismissed on October 6 and the misdemeanor charges were dropped on November 16.
On December 3rd, 2020, the founder of the NFAC, a Black separatism movement, John "Grandmaster Jay" Johnson, was indicted on charges of allegedly pointing his rifle at Police Officers. He is being investigated by the F.B.I.
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On and around the anniversary of the killing, hundreds of people gathered for protests and civil unrest in cities across the United States including Louisville, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Grand Rapids, Portland, New York, Washington D.C. and Seattle. Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said that three officers received minor injuries, nine businesses were vandalized and 11 protesters were arrested.
Kentucky Republicans work to pass the controversial 'Kentucky Senate Bill 211', which would make it a misdemeanor to insult Kentucky Police Officers, thus being punishable by up to 90 days in jail. It has been criticized as an infringement on free speech, and as a form of suppression of protesters for Police Accountability. The bill is currently on hold until 2022 and until further notice.
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