Here's What Happened at Breonna Taylor Protests Around the Country Last Night

Police used tear gas and impact munitions to disperse crowds, and over a hundred protesters were arrested.
September 24, 2020, 12:48pm
Protests Erupt Across U.S. After Charges In Death Of Breonna Taylor Are Announced
ACROSS THE U.S., Thousands of Protesters Marched After the decision not to charge police officers In Death Of Breonna Taylor was Announced. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of people showed their anger, frustration, and sadness at the decision not to charge police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor, filling streets in dozens of cities across the country on Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

While many of the demonstrations were peaceful, some turned violent, as protesters clashed with local, state, and federal police officers.

In Taylor’s hometown of Louisville, two police officers were shot during the protests. In Portland, a police precinct was targeted with fire and rocks, and police said a Molotov cocktail was thrown at officers.

In Denver and Buffalo, drivers drove cars through protesters in what has become a familiar scene during this year’s ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.

Dozens of protesters were arrested as clashes with police continued into the early hours of Thursday morning.

However, in many cities, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., thousands of protesters peacefully showed their opposition to the decision announced Wednesday by the attorney general of Kentucky.

AG Daniel Cameron told a press conference Wednesday that the grand jury had decided to indict ex-detective Brett Hankison on charges related to putting Taylor’s neighbors at risk — rather than directly related to killing the 26-year-old EMT.

The news was greeted with anger by Taylor’s family and across the political and sporting worlds.

Ben Crump, the Taylor family lawyer, called the decision “outrageous and offensive” while Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris said, “We must never stop speaking Breonna’s name.”

NBA star LeBron James, who had highlighted Taylor’s case in recent months, said the decision left him “lost for words today! I'm devastated, hurt, sad, mad!" Colin Kaepernick went further, tweeting: “The white supremacist institution of policing that stole Breonna Taylor's life from us must be abolished for the safety and well-being of our people.”

When asked about the decision, President Donald Trump deflected by focusing instead on Cameron, saying he made a “really brilliant” statement and is a “star.”

Here’s a rundown of the most significant developments from Wednesday night’s protests:

Louisville

As Daniel Cameron was still speaking on camera, demonstrators were already filling downtown Louisville, sporting large pre-made signs. Within hours, as police responded to large crowds in the city, the situation turned violent.

Two police officers were shot while responding to large crowds who were setting fires and damaging property, the police said. Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said that the officers did not have life-threatening injuries.

The suspect has been named by police as Larynzo Johnson, 26, who is charged with wanton endangerment and assault of a police officer, WLWT5 reported.

The FBI is seeking the public’s help in investigating the shooting. "We are asking for the public’s help to submit any videos related to the shooting of two LMPD officers on September 23, 2020, at approximately 8:30 PM near Broadway and South Brook Street,” the agency said in a statement on its website.

In total, 100 protesters were arrested during the protests in downtown Louisville Wednesday night, the AP reported.

Portland

In Portland, where competing rallies could see more violence this weekend, federal officers were drafted in to help disperse a large crowd who had gathered to protest the decision in Taylor’s case.

A handful of the protesters broke off and targeted a police precinct with rocks and fire, OregonLive reported. When police moved in to disperse the crowd, one of the protesters threw a molotov cocktail at the officers. The incident was captured on video.

When the hundreds of people who gathered in honor of Taylor refused to move, police officers — including federal troops — used impact munitions and pepper spray to disperse them.

Seattle

Protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse downtown Seattle on Wednesday night and held a candlelight vigil in honor of Taylor. But a separate group of protesters marched through the Capitol Hill and downtown areas of the city, smashing windows, spray painting graffiti and clashing with police, while chanting Breonna Taylor’s name.

Late on Wednesday night, the police announced that officers at the scene had “declared the ongoing protest an unlawful assembly after multiple fires have been set, explosives have been thrown at officers, and property damage in the surrounding area.”

“Leave the area immediately or you may be subject to arrest,” a tweet from the department warned. Police responded to protesters who wouldn’t disperse by firing pepper spray and blast balls.

When protesters failed to disperse, police on bikes approached them. One was captured cycling his bike directly over a protester how as lying on the ground.

Warning: graphic footage

Just before 2 a.m. on Thursday morning, Seattle’s Police Department announced that it had arrested 13 people.

Denver

A peaceful protest at the State Capitol had wrapped up around 9 p.m. As the demonstration was winding down, a car drove into a group of protesters near Colfax Avenue and Broadway.

The Denver Police Department responded to the incident and confirmed that there were no injuries and one man has been detained. The police did not say if any charges were being brought against the suspect.

The video of the incident shows a small group of protesters surrounding the car, and before it accelerated, the protesters were trying to get the driver to turn around, saying people were still on the street, according to Shelly Bradbury, a reporter with the Denver Post.

Atlanta

Crowds began gathering to protest in downtown Atlanta from around 5 p.m. Later in the evening, the protesters made their way to the Capitol Building, where they met Georgia State Patrol Troopers, who eventually deployed tear gas against the protesters when they refused to disperse.

At around 10.15 p.m. the officers began making arrests.

Buffalo

Police in Buffalo say that a person in pickup truck drove through a crowd of protesters outside City Hall, injuring one woman on a bike.

The incident, which came after peaceful protests at the grand jury’s decision, was captured on video.

Another video shows protesters confronting the female driver and slashing the tires of the pickup truck before it speds away. Police said they are investigating the incident.