LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hundreds of demonstrators gathered downtown on Thursday night, a day after two police officers were shot during protests against a grand jury’s decision not to file charges in the killing of Breonna Taylor.
After months of demands by people across the country for police accountability, demonstrators spilled into the streets to voice their support for Taylor’s memory and for her grieving family.
Some called for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to release all the evidence in the case while others carried “Black Lives Matter” and “United Not Divided” signs and questioned whether justice would ever be served in Louisville, Kentucky.
In the early evening, demonstrators blocked an intersection and chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets.”
Hundreds of protesters swelled into the area. They were joined by a group of 30 armed people who said they showed up to protect businesses from possible vandalism.
By the city’s 9 p.m. curfew a group of demonstrators sought shelter outside a church, where a woman with a megaphone said, “Stay on the church property. They are opening the sanctuary. We are safe here.”
A protester holding burning sage meandered through the group.
Police had the area surrounded, and some of the remaining demonstrators on the streets were placed under arrest. Chemical agents were deployed, an unlawful assembly was declared and stragglers were encouraged to go home or face being locked up.
Later in the evening, an officer and a protester shook hands on a deal to let the demonstrators exit the church property without being arrested.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Thursday extended the 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. curfew through the weekend. Roadblocks and barricades remained in place downtown.
Following protests in Kansas City, Missouri, on Wednesday night, Gov. Mike Parson activated the National Guard. Police in Oakland, California, said in a statement that they “will continue to facilitate safe places & spaces for demonstrations.”
In Louisville, the grand jury’s decision announced Wednesday drew sharp criticism from protesters and local activists who had called for three officers involved in the violence at Taylor’s home to be charged in her death.
Brett Hankison was the only officer involved in the early morning raid on Taylor’s Louisville apartment who was charged, but not in her death. He is accused of first-degree wanton endangerment. Det. Myles Cosgrove, the officer whose rounds killed Taylor, according to the indictment, was not charged.
Taylor, 26, an emergency medical technician, was fatally shot in her home on March 13 after Louisville police officers executed a no-knock warrant to search for drugs or cash in connection with an investigation involving her ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, a convicted drug dealer.
Glover had been using Taylor’s address to receive packages, according to authorities.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was with her when officers arrived at the door, told police the officers did not identify themselves. Worried as they pounded on the door, he said, he fired off one round from a gun he was licensed to have. It injured one officer, and police returned fire, killing Taylor and shooting up a neighbor’s apartment.
During protests Wednesday night, two Louisville police officers were shot while responding to a report of a large crowd and gunfire. Larynzo Johnson, 26, was charged with two counts of assault on a police officer and 14 counts of wanton endangerment of a police officer.
Louisville police arrested 127 people during protests Wednesday.
Chloe Atkins reported from Louisville and Dennis Romero from California.