LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Hundreds of people protesting against police brutality spread throughout downtown Louisville on Friday night and into Saturday morning, some leaving destruction behind.
The protests began peacefully around 5 p.m. Friday when nonviolent demonstrations, many of whom had marched from NuLu, gathered at Metro Hall and the Hall of Justice at Sixth and Jefferson streets, the site of Thursday’s demonstration, to honor Breonna Taylor, an emergency room tech and former EMT who was shot to death by LMPD officers on March 13.
The group held signs, and some people lay on their backs and chanted, “I can’t breathe,” echoing the words of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis.
Speakers at Metro Hall urged protesters to attend a community meeting Sunday to help lay the groundwork for what organizers are calling the “Reset Louisville” movement. Its goals are to call on Fischer to publicly apologize to the entire city and to Taylor’s family and to develop a strategy to reduce police brutality.
After the speakers addressed the crowd, protesters marched in circles around the Hall of Justice and LMPD headquarters. The crowd then attempted to start a fire near an entrance to the Hall of Justice, where police officers waited on the other side of the glass doors.
Protesters broke out into different groups from Sixth and Jefferson, ushering in the chaos that fell over the city for the rest of the night and into Saturday morning with demonstrators breaking windows, spraying buildings with graffiti, raiding businesses and setting fires.
The Louisville Metro Police Department said by 1 a.m. it had received several reports of property damage on Fourth Street Live. Several businesses, including Chipotle, CVS, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and the Louisville Tourism store were looted and hit with vandalism: broken glass, shattered windows and graffiti.
Crews spent much of Saturday morning working on cleanup, scrubbing graffiti off of buildings, boarding up windows and repairing what they could.
— Darby Beane (@DarbyBeane) May 30, 2020
— Darby Beane (@DarbyBeane) May 30, 2020
Video captured Friday night by WDRB News reporter Chad Mills showed people breaking the class windows at the Eddie Merlots restaurant, then jumping through the broken windows and walking out with bottles of alcohol.
The Manhattan Grill on Muhammad Ali Boulevard was also damaged, its windows shattered, spilling glass all over the restaurant.
“I feel kind of upset because I didn’t do nothing to deserve that. It’s like, why are you hurting my local business?” Mitch David, who owns the restaurant, told WDRB News, adding that the restaurant is his baby that he’d worked so hard to make happen.
Buildings, vehicles and statues were vandalized while small fires were set in the streets and in buildings. The windows were also smashed at the Hall of Justice and LMPD headquarters.
— Gina Glaros (@ginaglaros) May 30, 2020
Much of the violence centered around the downtown area of 4th, 6th and Jefferson Streets, while a large group of peaceful protesters marched to the Highlands area.
An LMPD spokesperson said officers have tried to stay as hands-off as possible, protecting the safety of life while managing the crowd creating property damage.
The department said it has been monitoring social media and they, along with Mayor Greg Fischer, have said they believe a majority of the damage came from people who do not live in Louisville.
“This is not a protest, this is violence,” Fischer said Saturday morning, adding that violence won’t be tolerated.
“Breonna’s family called for peace and safe protest,” he said. “Violence does not bring our city closer to the truth in her case. No one stands up for justice and equality by smashing windows and burning property.”
They mayor also asked Louisville residents to stay home, implementing a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
At least two people were arrested in connection with the protests. A news crew from another Louisville station was also attacked. Police said their photographer was taken to the hospital but their injuries are unknown.
Video also surfaced Friday of an officer targeting and shooting rounds of pepper balls at a team of journalists from WAVE 3 News while the journalists were broadcasting live.
Another rally was held Saturday morning on the steps of City Hall calling for justice in Breonna Taylor’s case. About 50 to 100 people gathered holding signs that read “justice has no party” and “justice for Breonna.” At one point in the rally, LMPD officers spoke with the group, telling them it is OK to protest as long as it doesn’t include violence and destruction.
One protester at the rally said he didn’t know the group who came joined Friday’s protest and damaging buildings, and that those people were never welcomed at the protest.
“Make sure that when you are doing all these crimes and looting all these buildings, make sure you tell them we’re not with y’all. Make sure to tell them we are not your co-defendants on these cases that you’re all about to get prosecuted for,” Emanuel Mitchell said.
There were no issues reported at the Saturday morning rally, but in light of Friday night’s destruction, Fischer and Gov. Andy Beshear called in the Kentucky National Guard, which said 350 guardsmen were being sent to the city “to assist the police in maintaining peace and protect critical infrastructure.”
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