Hundreds of activists marched Saturday afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky to renew their demand that the officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor one year ago be charged with murder, and call for policing reform.
Despite angry confrontations with law enforcement, the protest remained peaceful.
Armed activists including “Boogaloo Boys” and the local “United Pharaoh’s Guard” (UPG) militia provided security for the event. Others participating armed ranged from apparent right-anarchist to communist, and some without obvious affiliation at all.
The march began at “Injustice Square” – an epicenter of racial justice protests in Louisville for the past year.
The area is formally Jefferson Square Park, a monument to first responders. The city plans to add a marker in the park for Breonna Taylor, who was an EMS.
Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, spoke out at a rally ahead of the march.
“We gotta keep going,” he told the crowd, who chanted “hero! hero!” when he took the stage.
Walker was originally charged for one shot he fired as officers – whom he mistook as intruders – broke down his door. The charges have now been dropped with prejudice, meaning he cannot be recharged for the incident.
Attorneys Benjamin Crump and Lonita Baker, both involved in the $12 million settlement deal in the wake of the death of Breonna Taylor at the hands of the Louisville Police Department, also spoke at the rally.
Police confront protesters after sundown
Protests ended in the late afternoon, but resumed in the evening.
Riot police confronted about 50 protesters at River Street on Louisville’s waterfront around 9 p.m.
“Under Kentucky state law, this is an unlawful assembly, and we command all persons so assembled here to immediately and peacefully disperse. If you do not do so, we may dispense chemical agents, and you will be arrested,” LMPD repeated as officers pushed the crowd back.
A Lieutenant told an activist the response was provoked by two rifle-wielding participants who told a car to turn around.
Most of the crowd put considerable distance between them and the officers. Media and a handful of local UPG militia members stayed on the frontline and mocked officers for their use of bright lights and wielding of heavy weaponry.
Ahead, officers arrested a woman who was leaving the protest in her vehicle with young three kids in the car. Police ultimately released the mother on site with a summons. She briefly told the media she had been arrested for driving “recklessly” because the kids had been leaning out windows.
Protesters yelled as officers as they finally left the scene. The rally dispersed without further conflict.