A second night of protests in Louisville led to destroyed property and looting but few injuries and arrests, according to city officials.
Police in riot gear set off tear gas and flashbangs as they faced off with protesters. During the course of the evening, the protest splintered into several groups: those that stayed around Fifth and Jefferson despite efforts to disperse the crowd, some that walked down Broadway with protest signs, those breaking windows and looting Fourth Street properties and another group that was walking through the Highlands down Bardstown Road, tailed by police.
During a briefing shortly after 1 a.m., Mayor Greg Fischer said there was no excuse for the property damage that occurred, and that it did not honor the memory of Breonna Taylor, 26, who died March 13 after LMPD officers shot her while executing a “no-knock” warrant.
“Many came tonight to express frustration” about Taylor’s death, Fischer said. “I respect that right. Unfortunately, another faction used the occasion of a protest as an excuse to cause destruction. It besmirches any claim to honor Breonna Taylor’s memory.”
LMPD spokesperson Jessie Halladay said the police department’s primary concern was safety, and that posed significant challenges for officers to move through pockets of protest and respond to property destruction.
“We’ve been trying to stay as hands-off as we can,” Halladay said.
Two protesters were arrested Friday evening, she said. There were no serious injuries she knew of, although a cameraman from a local news station was taken to the hospital.
Destruction Began Early
Tonight, early in the evening, protesters pulled down American and Louisville flags and lit the American flag on fire before spray-painting it black.
As the sunset around 9 p.m. Friday, protesters broke out a window at the Hall of Justice and a small fire was lit inside the window.
Kentucky State Police troopers in riot gear were stationed throughout downtown Friday evening.
An LMPD quick response team moved into the area around the Hall of Justice around 9:30 p.m. and deployed tear gas to push protesters out of the area.
At least 200 people took their peaceful protest down Bardstown Road, carrying signs and chanting Taylor’s name for much of the trek that stretched from Broadway south to Eastern Parkway.
Dozens of police trailed the protesters in cruisers and some in riot gear blocked the entrance to Mid City Mall.
When the group arrived at the intersection of Bardstown and Eastern Parkway — not far from Mayor Greg Fischer’s home — nearly everyone knelt and raised their fist in silence.
They then retreated back along the corridor that’s long been a hub of entertainment and eating. At least one instance of property damage occurred when two men threw rocks into a window of an electronics store, breaking the window.
For most of the evening, the protest was centered around Jefferson and Sixth streets, near Metro Hall, LMPD headquarters, the jail and the Hall of Justice and the site of a shooting last night.
By 10:30 p.m., protesters were using trash cans lit on fire to form barricades in the roads and had begun breaking out windows at downtown businesses, including T-Mobile and a Subway sandwich shop. By midnight, much of Fourth Street Live was affected, with businesses’ windows broken out, looters stealing merchandise and trees and plants toppled.
The Craft Gallery and Mercantile on Fourth Street had its window smashed in. Owner David McGuire told WFPL he hasn’t seen the police, and he wants the mayor to answer for this.
During a press briefing, Halladay of LMPD said the crowd had appeared to be escalating, not de-escalating.
“We are trying to manage this situation in a way that keeps everyone safe,” Halladay said. “It’s not so simple as to say we are going to shut down the protest.”
Jeff Young and J. Tyler Franklin contributed reporting.
This story will be updated.