As Republican Sen. Rand Paul left the White House Thursday night, he was surrounded by a group of protesters and was escorted by police to a nearby hotel.
The scene was captured on video by The Washington Post. The footage shows officers using their patrol bicycles to create a barrier between Paul, his wife and the crowd, as the protesters walked around them and shouted “no justice, no peace,” “justice for Breonna Taylor” and “you need to respond.”
Paul represents Kentucky, where 26 year-old EMT Breonna Taylor was killed by police officers in her Louisville home after they executed a no-knock warrant at the wrong apartment.
Activists across the country are frustrated with the handling of the investigation by Kentucky’s Republican Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, who spoke at the RNC earlier this week. No charges have been filed against the officers in Louisville.
Hundreds of peaceful protesters gathered outside the White House Thursday night as President Trump accepted his party’s nomination for the presidency on the south lawn of the White House. They held signs, chanted, marched and blew horns occasionally audible on the White House lawn.
The overall protest was peaceful according to what was witnessed by NPR reporters outside the White House Thursday night.
For months, demonstrators have congregated around the White House to protest racial injustice and police brutality following the deaths of Taylor and George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, at the hands of white officers. On Friday, thousands gathered on the National Mall for a march calling for racial justice, on the anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Thursday night, the Post reports that police sprayed “chemical irritants” to push back the protesters surrounding Paul. At one point, an officer walking next to his bike pushed back a protester, and the situation escalated as the protester returned the push and sent the officer falling backward into Paul.
In a tweet, Paul thanked the D.C. police department for “literally saving our lives from a crazed mob.” The video does not show protesters physically touching the Pauls. In an interview on Fox News this morning, Paul used the incident to bolster a political argument that President Trump made earlier in the night — that electing the Democratic ticket would pave the way for chaos in American cities. Paul is calling for an FBI investigation into the people who were in the crowd.
This is not the first time an attack on Paul involved a police response. In 2017, Paul was assaulted while working on his lawn by a neighbor in Bowling Green, Ky. The senator was seriously injured with six broken ribs. The attack resulted from a dispute over landscaping on their property line and Paul was awarded over $500,000 in damages.
Often at odds with his party’s leadership, Paul has long advocated for criminal justice reform legislation in the Senate. Back in June, he introduced a Senate bill to ban “no knock” warrants called the “Justice for Breonna Taylor Act.”
The law would ban federal law enforcement officers from carrying out warrants without announcing their “authority and purpose.” It would also prevent local and state agencies that receive Department of Justice funding from using no-knock warrants. Those that don’t comply would risk their funding.
Police reform legislation on Capitol Hill has stalled as both parties accuse each other of playing politics with the issue ahead of the November election.