Police and Black Lives Matter protesters were in a tense two-hour standoff at a Louisville church on Thursday night, after the demonstrators declared the church a ‘sanctuary’ and demonstrated there when a 9pm curfew went into effect.
Demonstrators massed at First Unitarian Church, where clergy allowed them to seek refuge on church grounds to avoid arrest during curfew, and a massive police cordon was established around the property.
About 200 people occupied the church grounds, where demonstrators taunted officers in riot gear who stood nearby, forming a massive cordon around the church.
It came during another night of unrest across the country over the grand jury decision not to directly charge officers in the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor during a search warrant raid, and one day after two Louisville police officers were shot and .
In Hollywood, chaotic scenes unfolded when a truck accelerated through a crowd of protesters, causing injuries. Demonstrators were also seen surrounding the truck and trying to open the driver’s side door.
In St. Louis, protesters blocked westbound lanes of Interstate 64, and in New York City, a large group of demonstrators marched into Manhattan from Brooklyn over the Williamsburg Bridge.
In Louisville, BLM protesters smashed the windows of a downtown public library and threw a flare inside as authorities extended a citywide curfew into the weekend and the National Guard prepared to deploy.
Late on Thursday, what appeared to be armed militiamen were spotted guarding a gas station in downtown Louisville.
Demonstrators massed at First Unitarian Church in Louisville on Thursday, where clergy allowed them to seek refuge on church grounds to avoid arrest after a 9pm curfew went into effect
About 200 people occupied the church grounds, where demonstrators taunted officers in riot gear who stood nearby, forming a massive cordon around the church
Police established a heavy presence around the church, blocking off the protesters from roaming downtown
Police officers hold a perimeter around the First Unitarian Church where protesters are seeking refuge at during a curfew, a day after a grand jury decision in the March killing of Taylor in her home in Louisville, Kentucky
Shortly before 11pm on Thursday, about 200 people remained in the area outside the First Unitarian Church in Louisville.
The stone gothic-style church was built in the late 19th century and is known for its progressive ideology. A large Black Lives Matter banner hangs outside it.
A church leader at the scene explained that churches were exempt from the emergency curfew order, and said that the demonstrators had been invited onto the church grounds to avoid arrest.
Video from the scene shows some of the demonstrators at the church demanding that white protesters leave the grounds of the ‘sanctuary’. ‘All you white motherf***ers leave!’ one man was seen shouting.
Soon after 11pm, the protesters at the church began to disperse after police told them that they could go home without being arrested.
One of those arrested on Thursday night in the Kentucky city was Rep. Attica Scott, a state lawmaker. Scott, a Democrat from Louisville, was among a group arrested near the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library and First Unitarian Church at the intersection of South Fourth and York streets, officials said.
Scott is charged with first-degree rioting, a Class D felony, as well as failure to disperse and unlawful assembly.
She is the author of ‘Breonna’s law.’ The proposed Kentucky legislation would ban the use of ‘no-knock’ warrants statewide.
Initially, reports claimed Louisville police used a ‘no-knock’ warrant to enter Taylor’s home in the early morning hours of March 13. On Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said an independent witness verified that officers knocked and announced their presence during the raid.
Rep. Attica Scott, a Kentucky state lawmaker, is seen at a demonstration in June. She was arrested on Thursday and charged with first-degree rioting, a Class D felony, as well as failure to disperse and unlawful assembly
The stone gothic-style The First Unitarian church was built in the late 19th century and is known for its progressive ideology. A large Black Lives Matter banner hangs outside it
Shortly before 11pm on Thursday, about 200 people remained in the area outside the First Unitarian Church in Louisville
A person sits in a police vehicle after being detained, Thursday in Louisville. Authorities pleaded for calm while activists vowed to fight on Thursday in Kentucky’s largest city, where a gunman wounded two police officers during protests
Protests over the killing of Breonna Taylor continued Thursday in the city of Louisville. Pictured is a memorial to Breonna Taylor, that has been set up at Jefferson Square Park
Several dozen demonstrators left the First Unitarian Church around 11pm Thursday after a negotiated end to the tense confrontation there. Police who had gathered there with riot gear also pulled back.
Several arrests had been made earlier that evening at an intersection outside the church. But there appeared to be no police interference as the protest disbanded.
Demonstrator Nicole Aghaaliandastjerdi said she knew several people taken into custody and believes they were arrested unfairly.
‘I am not sad, I am angry,’ she said, vowing to return downtown Friday to help her friends get out of jail.
Carmen Jones, a local organizer, instructs protesters over a megaphone as they arrive at the First Unitarian Church for refuge
A priest from the First Unitarian Church talks to the riot police as protesters take refuge in the church shortly after curfew
Police established a heavy cordon around the church, eventually allowing the protesters to leave if they pledged not to vandalize property
At the Louisville church, people in the crowd chanted ‘Black Lives Matter’ as tensions continued for a second night in the city.
Video released by Louisville Metro Police Department shows protesters chanting and taunting officers in riot gear.
Police appeared to be keeping their distance from the protesters, who did not appear to be willing to disperse.
At around 11pm Eastern time, police began pulling back after apparently reaching an agreement with the protesters, who pledged to leave church grounds and continue marching on the pedestrian sidewalk.
The police asked the protesters to pledge not to vandalize property.
Before the march began, protester Shameka Parrish-Wright told the crowd to stay together and take care of each other if they were met with force.
‘We want to show the country and the world what we’re about,’ Parrish-Wright said.
Louisville police released images showing officers detain protesters who violated curfew
Some 100 protesters gathered in downtown Louisville to defy a 9pm curfew and stood face to face with police in riot gear
Police in Louisville detain a protester who is pinned to the sidewalk on Thursday night
Some protesters blocked roads as they marched. Police, meanwhile, were seen nearby and patrol cars blocked some roads.
There was no immediate signs of a confrontation.
On Wednesday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear mobilized 500 members of the National Guard.
The governor ordered them deployed to Louisville to prevent civil unrest.
Meanwhile, city officials who initially announced a 72-hour curfew have extended it through the weekend.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the curfew, which goes into effect from 9pm to 6:30am each night, does not apply to people commuting to work, going to houses of worship for services or seeking medical attention, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.
Fischer has encouraged Louisville residents to begin heading home at 8pm each night so as to allow enough time to abide by the curfew.
After curfew set in, the protesters took up refuge at Calvary Episcopal Church. Louisville police in riot gear blocked off all roadways leading to the church
Several of the protesters stood opposite police in riot gear who were standing on the street
Police appeared to be in discussions with individuals linked to the demonstrators, though it is unclear what was said
Police in riot gear are seen above talking to a civilian as protesters look on from the church grounds
Earlier on Thursday evening, BLM marchers confronted about a dozen members of an armed militia.
The militia members were dressed in full military garb and carrying assault rifles. They identified themselves as ‘Oath Keepers,’ a group that calls itself ‘nonpartisan association of current and former serving military, police, and first responders’ whose goal is to ‘defend the Constitution.’
The Oath Keepers members said they were in Louisville to protect property.
‘We’re not here to start nothing,’ a militia member from North Carolina told the Courier Journal.
The Southern Poverty Law Center calls Oath Keepers ‘one of the largest radical anti-government groups in the U.S.’
A few BLM protesters confronted members of the Oath Keepers, but most kept away.
‘Back up! Don’t be stupid!’ one man yelled.
‘Walk through and keep moving. Do not engage these people with no guns!’
Earlier on Thursday evening, BLM marchers confronted about a dozen members of the Oath Keepers, an armed militia
Oath Keepers were set-up at a Hampton Inn in downtown Louisville, and said they were in Louisville to protect property
BLM protesters got into a heated exchange with heavily armed militia that were set-up at a Hampton Inn
Shortly afterward, Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, made a brief appearance at Jefferson Square Park.
She stood for a few moments at the memorial that was erected for her daughter.
Palmer, who has not said anything publicly since the grand jury decision was announced on Wednesday, wore a black satin jacket that read ‘Until Freedom.’
Underneath the jacket she wore a white t-shirt with a picture of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron over the words ‘Mitch’s b****.’
Cameron, a Republican and the first African American elected to the position of state attorney general, is a protege of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.