Metro Louisville

For more than 100 days, downtown’s Jefferson Square Park has gone by many names: Injustice Square Park, Breonna Taylor Park, the center of the movement.

The park is where protesters have gathered to demand justice for 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by Louisville Metro Police in March.

But for much of Thursday, the day after the decision to indict only one officer on charges not directly related to Taylor’s death, the mood at the park was somber, with a few small groups of people sitting around the makeshift memorial to Taylor.

Just down the block, though, the energy was high.

A small group was waiting by the exit door of the Louisville Metro jail to greet some of the 127 men and women arrested the night before, as they were released.

Renee Jones, who is white, was arrested late Wednesday night with her husband, who is Black. She got out about 4:15 p.m. on Thursday.

“Honestly, I don’t think all police are bad,” Jones said. “But after this, I’m afraid of them for sure. I’m afraid for my husband, my family.”

Yet Renee said she’s going to keep protesting.

“I am here for a reason: because I believe Black Lives Matter. I believe Breonna did not get justice,” she said.

Her husband James said conditions in jail were bad — 40 people crammed in a small room with no masks. But he also sounded upbeat.

“We just knew that we stood up for what we believed in,” said Jones. “And if it cost us a night in jail, then it’s a night in jail.”

About 15 minutes later, 18-year-old Janaja Lovett walked out of the jail. She was arrested at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

She’d taken part in the protests several times over the last several months. But on Wednesday, she’d just stopped by because her sister was there. Suddenly, she found herself blocked in.

“The police are just doing too much,” Lovett said. “We wasn’t doing anything, they didn’t have to do all that. There was horses and everything.”

She has been charged with failure to disperse and unlawful assembly.

While she was in jail, she heard the news: Two police officers had been shot by a man who was among a group of protesters. The officers are both in good condition; a suspect, Larynzo Johnson, was arrested a short time later.

Lovett recalled deciding right then that, as soon as she got out, she was done hanging around the park. She doesn’t want to deal with the police who, she felt, will be angry with protesters.

“I know that they’re gonna win at the end of the day, because they’re the law. They deal with the law,” she said. “So I will scream Breonna Taylor’s name from my house.”

Lovett says she thought a lot of protesters would be staying away from the area. And the afternoon crowd did remain small.

But as night fell and the curfew grew closer, more people began to show up, ready for another night of protesting.

Graham Ambrose is an investigative reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. He is a Report for America corps member.
Eleanor Klibanoff is a reporter with the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.