Kentucky (NBC) (07/15/20)— Dozens of people protesting the police death of Breonna Taylor were arrested Tuesday outside the home of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, authorities said.
Eighty-seven people are facing a felony charge of intimidating a participant in a legal process, police said.
“The protesters chose to occupy the front yard of a home owned by the Kentucky Attorney General and continuously chant towards he and his neighbors,” Sgt. Lamont Washington of the Louisville Metro Police Department said in a statement. “All were given the opportunity to leave, were told that remaining on the property would be unlawful, and chose not to leave.”
The group had gathered to protest the death of Taylor, age 26, who was fatally shot four months ago by police.
Officers used a “no-knock” warrant to enter Taylor’s apartment on March 13, and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, age 27, believing a criminal was barging in, fired a gun, injuring one officer.
He was charged with assault and attempted murder on a police officer, but the charges have been dropped.
Police have said they identified themselves as they entered, but Walker and Taylor’s family have disputed that account.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency room technician, died after she was hit at least eight times during an ensuing shootout.
The raid was part of a warrant search of Taylor’s home; police said they believed the 26-year-old was stashing drugs for the main target of their investigation.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, says authorities found no drugs in the home.
One of three officers involved was fired last month, and the two other officers have been placed on administrative leave.
The FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s office and the state attorney general’s office are investigating the case.
Protesters are calling for the officers to be charged, and they’ve accused investigators of dragging their feet.
On Tuesday afternoon, a group of protesters marched from a high school to Cameron’s home, police said.
They chanted, “Say her name — Breonna Taylor,” wore matching t-shirts bearing the name of the nonprofit Until Freedom, and sported masks with Taylor’s name.
“It has been 116+ days since Breonna Taylor has been murdered by the Louisville Police Department and no one has been held accountable,” Until Freedom said on its website. “We must now escalate our actions so that the powers that be know, we will not stop until we get justice for Breonna and her family.”
Cameron said in a statement that occupying his lawn was unacceptable.
“From the beginning, our office has set out to do its job, to fully investigate the events surrounding the death of Ms. Breonna Taylor,” he said. “We continue with a thorough and fair investigation, and today’s events will not alter our pursuit of the truth. The stated goal of today’s protest at my home was to ‘escalate.’ That is not acceptable and only serves to further division and tension within our community.”
The dozens of people arrested Tuesday are also facing charges of disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing, Washington said.
“Real Housewives of Atlanta” star Porsha Williams was among those detained, according to NBC affiliate WAVE of Louisville.
Corey Shapiro, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky, said by email that the Louisville Metro Police Department’s use of a felony allegation against demonstrators was designed to muzzle the protests.
“The ACLU of Kentucky condemns LMPD’s charging these peaceful protesters with ‘Intimidating a Participant in a Legal Process,'” he said. “This action is an overblown, outrageous, and inappropriate reaction to a community that is rightfully upset with its government’s delay in holding the police accountable. The only purpose these charges seem to serve is to potentially chill the free speech rights of the protesters.”
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