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Kentucky legislator among 24 arrested in Louisville protests over Breonna Taylor

LOUISVILLE — Louisville police arrested 24 people including a Kentucky state representative, as relative calm prevailed overnight during a second night of protests since police were cleared of homicide in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

Among those arrested was state Representative Attica Scott, the only Black woman in the Kentucky legislature and the author of the proposed “Breonna’s Law,” which would end “no-knock” warrants and require police to wear body cameras while warrants are served. The bill is due to come up in the 2021 session.

Protests erupted following Wednesday’s announcement that a grand jury would not bring homicide charges against police officers involved in the fatal March 13 shooting of Taylor in her home during the execution of a search warrant.

Instead, one officer was charged with wanton endangerment for stray bullets that struck a neighboring apartment.

Police on Friday reported 24 arrests overnight on charges of unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and riot in the first degree, but no serious violence was reported. Two police officers had been shot and wounded the night before, when 127 people were detained.

Scott was accused of felony first-degree rioting in addition to the misdemeanor offenses of failure to disperse and unlawful assembly, police said.

The protests began on Wednesday after the grand jury decided that none of the three white officers who stormed Taylor’s apartment early on the morning of March 13 would be charged with causing her death.

Taylor, 26, a Black emergency medical technician and aspiring nurse, was struck by six bullets moments after she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were roused from bed in the commotion of the raid.

Walker fired one shot, wounding a police officer, saying he did not hear police identify themselves. Three officers responded by firing 32 rounds.

The grand jury decision, announced by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, was immediately denounced by civil rights advocates as the latest miscarriage of justice in a U.S. law enforcement system corrupted by racial inequity.

Cameron said the two officers who shot Taylor used justified force under Kentucky law because they were returning fire.

The city of Louisville has agreed to pay $12 million to Taylor’s family to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit.

Taylor’s slaying initially drew little national attention. But it was thrust into prominence after George Floyd, a Black man arrested for a non-violent offense in Minneapolis, died under the knee of a white police officer on May 25, igniting a summer of protests against racial injustice and excessive police force.

(Reporting by Carlos Barria and Bryan Woolston; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

As a 9 p.m. curfew went into effect and police declared an unlawful assembly on Thursday, a group of 200 to 300 protesters who had marched through the city for hours retreated to the grounds of the First Unitarian Church, set aside by organizers as a sanctuary near the Ohio River waterfront.

Some of the marchers had smashed windows of several local businesses, and even a hospital, along the way, according to a Reuters journalist. But the scene outside the church contrasted sharply with violence that flared the previous night in Kentucky’s largest city.

Police also arrested Scott’s daughter, Ashanti Scott, and Shameka Parrish-Wright, an activist and a leader of The Bail Project, which helps poor people make bail.

All three were released Friday morning after spending the night in jail, said Ted Shouse, an attorney for Parrish-Wright. They were arrested together when somebody nearby broke the window of a library and threw a flare into the building, but neither Parrish-Wright nor the Scotts were involved, Shouse said.

“These charges are outrageous,” Shouse said, adding that Scott and Parrish-Wright are longtime friends who have been active in the social justice movement for years. “Does anybody really think these women would participate in setting fire to a public library?”

The previous night, two police officers were shot and wounded amid sporadic clashes between police and protesters.

The shooting suspect, Larynzo Johnson, 26, was seen on video opening fire on police with a handgun, an arrest report said. Johnson was due to appear in court on Friday to face two counts of assault in the first degree and 14 counts of wanton endangerment.

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