Dozens of peaceful activists are facing years in prison after protesting on the front lawn of the Kentucky attorney general’s house to demand he bring charges against the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor.
On Tuesday afternoon, a protest march through Louisville ended at the home of Daniel Cameron, the state’s top law enforcement official. Louisville Metro Police Department officials arrested 87 people in total, charging them with felonies for “intimidating a participant in a legal process,” as well as misdemeanors for trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Many protesters sat down on the lawn, some stood with arms linked, and some chanted "How do you spell murderer? LMPD" and "Whose streets? Our streets,” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Kentucky law defines the felony as using “physical force or a threat directed to a person he believes to be a participant in the legal process.” A Class D felony, Kentucky’s sentencing guidelines mean that if convicted, the protesters could face a maximum of five years in prison. Those arrested Tuesday included activist Linda Sarsour and Minneapolis NAACP President Leslie Redmond, according to Washington Post. NFL wide receiver Kenny Stills of the Houston Texans was also arrested, the Courier-Journal reported.
Those arrested were held at a local jail before beginning to be released early Wednesday morning.
In a tweet, the state ACLU called the charges an “overblown, outrageous, and inappropriate reaction” to the protest.
Cameron, a Republican who last year became the first Black attorney general of Kentucky, said in a statement that the goal of the protest was to “escalate.”
“That is not acceptable and only serves to further division and tension within our community. Justice is not achieved by trespassing on private property, and it’s not achieved through escalation,” Cameron said. “It’s achieved by examining the facts in an impartial and unbiased manner. That is exactly what we are doing and will continue to do in this investigation."
Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was shot and killed in her apartment while she was sleeping during a no-knock raid by Louisville Metro police in March. So far, just one of the police officers involved in Taylor’s death has even been disciplined, as LMPD officer Brett Hankison was fired in June, more than three months after Taylor’s killing. None of the officers have been charged.
VICE News reported in June that in New York City, while 44 percent of those arrested between May 29 and June 7 were white and 39 percent were Black, 16 percent of Black arrestees were charged with felonies as opposed to just 3 percent of white arrestees.
“The only folks who were being held were the kids of color, who were being charged with these ridiculous, trumped-up felony cases,” New York County Defender Services’ Jessica Heyman told VICE News at the time. “And that was just really, really enraging.”
Cover: Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during a roundtable discussion with President Donald Trump and law enforcement officials, Monday, June 8, 2020, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)