Police and Black Lives Matter protesters were in a tense standoff at a Louisville church on Thursday night, after the demonstrators declared the church a ‘sanctuary’ and demonstrated outside after 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.
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.
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 police shooting of Breonna Taylor during a search warrant raid.
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 public library in downtown Louisville and threw a flare inside as authorities extended a citywide curfew into the weekend and the National Guard prepared to deploy.
About 100 demonstrators gathered in Louisville, defying a nighttime curfew and nearby police in riot gear, marking a second night of protests after Wednesday’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against officers in the Breonna Taylor case.
The curfew took hold at 9pm in the Kentucky city as the protesters met up at the First Unitarian Church.
Police in riot gear could be seen blocking nearby streets.
One of those arrested on Thursday night was Attica Scott, a Kentucky state lawmaker and author of ‘Breonna’s law.’
The proposed legislation would ban the use of ‘no-knock’ warrants statewide.
Louisville police used a ‘no-knock’ warrant to enter Taylor’s home in the early morning hours of March 13. After Taylor’s boyfriend fired a shot at the officers thinking he was being robbed, police shot back and killed Taylor.
People in the crowd chanted ‘Black Lives Matter’ as tensions continued for a second night in the city.
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.
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.
Louisville police released images showing officers detain protesters who violated curfew
Louisville police are seen above detaining a protester in the downtown part of the city on Thursday night
Some 100 protesters gathered in downtown Louisville to defy a 9pm curfew and stood face to face with police in riot gear
The image above shows a police officer haul away a protester in downtown Louisville on Thursday night
Police in Louisville detain a protester who is pinned to the sidewalk on Thursday night
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.
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!’
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.