Saturday, May 30, 2020

Gov. Beshear to Send National Guard to Louisville After Second Night of Breonna Taylor Protests
Tessa Duvall
Darcy Costello
Louisville Courier Journal

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After a trail of vandalism across much of downtown Louisville that city officials attributed to out-of-towners, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced he'd send the National Guard to Louisville, calling it a step to "ensure the safety of everybody" and "help keep peace."

“What we have seen, especially last night, and what our intelligence says is going to happen tonight are outside groups moving in, trying to create violence to harm everybody who is on those streets," said Beshear. "We cannot let Breonna’s legacy be marred by violence and we can’t let our streets turn violent."

Meanwhile, Mayor Greg Fischer said he is implementing a dusk-to-dawn curfew for future protests against the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor.

"The tone clearly changed last night. The number of people on our street clearly changed last night, as well," Fischer said. "This turned from being a peaceful protest into violence and terrorism and looting on the streets of our city." Fischer said the National Guard would arrive in Louisville "later today."

Fischer said if people want to protest, they can do so "while it's light outside." A spokeswoman said the curfew will run from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

For the second night in a row, people took to the streets en masse to protest the fatal shooting of Taylor, an unarmed African American who died in her apartment after being shot at least eight times by Louisville Metro Police in March.

"This violence and destruction is absolutely unacceptable," he said in a 1 a.m. video call. "It besmirches any claim to honor Breonna Taylor's memory. ... No one stands up for justice and equality by smashing windows and burning property. This destruction will not be tolerated."

Taylor, an ER tech, was at her southwest Louisville apartment when police entered her home on a "no-knock" search warrant related to a narcotics investigation. Officers returned fire after Taylor's boyfriend fired a shot at what he said he believed to be intruders. No drugs were recovered from the apartment.

There were no altercations between protesters and police Friday, and, unlike the night before, there were no reports of gunfire in the crowd. City officials reported two arrests, and a television news crew was taken to the hospital.

But vandals did significant damage across downtown: Windows to office buildings, at least one hotel and restaurants were smashed. Looters sidestepped broken windows and rummaged through the bar area of Eddie Merlot's Prime Aged Beef & Seafood, hauling away armfuls of alcohol.

A similar smash-and-grab unfolded on live TV at the Omni Louisville Hotel on South Second Street, with looters sprinting away with bottles of booze.

Throughout the night, Courier Journal reporters and photographers saw canisters of tear gas being fired; heard flash bangs exploding; and spotted numerous fires in trash cans and recycling bins. Shards of glass were everywhere, and anti-police graffiti was spray-painted on buildings and sidewalks.

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"This has been a very sad night for our city," Fischer said. "Many came tonight to express the pain, anger and frustration brought about by the tragic death of Breonna Taylor. Many were here to exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully protest — and I respect that right.

"Unfortunately," the mayor continued, "another faction of people use the occasion of a protest as an excuse to cause destruction."

Before midnight, a peaceful demonstration paraded on Bardstown Road.

Jessie Halladay, a spokeswoman for Louisville Metro Police, also pointed to out-of-towners as the reason for much of the chaos and damage.

"They're determined to create division within this community," she said. "They are well-equipped. They bring sticks, bottles, bats, shields, guns. They are ready to set fires. They come well-stocked with water, supplies, other things. They are ready to start problems."

Friday night's unrest followed a smaller, but still raucous, protest Thursday that left seven people with gunshot wounds, including one in critical condition. Those shots were not fired by police, LMPD said.

Taylor's death is one of a number of high-profile killings of black Americans, several at the hands of police officers, that have sparked protests across the country.

Protesters in recent days have taken to the streets for George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis police in an incident captured on video. Floyd's death came at a time when many Americas were already outraged over the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, who was jogging in a south Georgia neighborhood when he was killed by white men.

In Louisville, protesters carried signs and chanted about both Taylor and Floyd.

Around 11 p.m., a small group of protesters walked down Bardstown Road, followed by a line of police vehicles. Dozens of cars honked their horns in support.

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People on sidewalks handed out water, reminding the crowd to stay hydrated, while chants of “hands up, don’t shoot” filled the air.

At Eastern Parkway, the protesters paused and knelt in the intersection, taking a brief moment of silence before walking back up Bardstown toward downtown.

Chanting throughout the night included “Breonna Taylor,” “No justice, no peace” and “F*** the police.”

As the group moved past a line of police officers blocking the entrance to the Mid-City Mall, several leaders also urged the group to “keep moving” and repeated that “this is a peaceful protest.”

Helicopters buzzed above the unrest for hours, their spotlights illuminating both tense confrontations and periods of standstill.

By midnight, empty milk jugs and crushed plastic water bottles littered the street in front of Metro Hall, where a handful of protesters remained — silently refusing to budge for the line of more than 50 officers in riot gear that had sought to advance.

Earlier in the evening, tensions rose as protesters spotted law enforcement officers inside the Hall of Justice. Protesters ripped the American and Kentucky flags from their poles in front of the building, using lighters and alcohol to set them ablaze.

Some hurled water bottles and other hard objects at the courthouse windows, splintering the glass. Other panes were smeared with red paint hand prints, made to look like blood.

As Thursday's protests turned violent, Taylor's family took to social media to plead with the community for peace.

"We are not going to stop until we get justice," Juniyah Palmer, Taylor's younger sister, said in a video.

"But we should stop tonight before people get hurt."

Contributing: Billy Kobin, Mandy McLaren and Bailey Loosemore, Louisville Courier Journal. Follow Tessa Duvall on Twitter: @TessaDuvall.

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