The final day of “BreonnaCon” culminated in the arrests of 64 protesters calling for justice for Breonna Taylor during a sit-in on an overpass near Churchill Downs on Tuesday.
The national civil rights group Until Freedom organized the day’s action and the events leading up to it to raise awareness about Taylor’s death. Louisville Metro Police Department officers shot and killed Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, in March while serving a “no-knock warrant.”
Protest organizers hinted they would march on LMPD’s training academy in South Louisville ahead of Tuesday’s march, but changed course mid-protest and marched to Churchill Downs before continuing on to an overpass across from Cardinal Stadium.
On the bridge, protest organizers announced they would make their stand and asked anyone who did not want to be arrested to leave.
LMPD surrounded those who participated in the sit-in and took protesters away one by one as onlookers cheered and chanted.
Interim Chief Robert Schroeder said later during a news conference they charged protesters with obstructing the roadway and disorderly conduct.
In an interview ahead of the act of civil disobedience, Until Freedom Co-founder Angelo Pinto said he and fellow protesters were planning to get into “good trouble” to amplify calls for justice and accountability.
“There are decades when nothing happens and then there are weeks where decades happen,” Pinto. “I think we are in a moment particularly in Louisville and other cities around the country where a lot of change is possible.”
Pinto is one of 87 protesters arrested during another Until Freedom Action where they performed a sit-in on Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s lawn in July. He said their demonstrations follow a non-violent strategy modeled on the Civil Right protests of the 1960s.
Protester Yvette Humphrey said that’s what drew her to participate in Tuesday’s demonstration. She said it’s unfair people judge the movement based on those few who have taken advantage of protests to loot and destroy property.
“I cannot speak for other people whose motivation is not as ours is, but I just wish that other people would take time, listen to the facts and not the rumors, and understand we don’t want drama, we don’t want trouble,” Humphrey said. “We want justice.”
Following an afternoon training, protesters gathered in South Central Park. Michelle Murrell, of Louisville, sat in the shade while waiting for the march to begin. She said protests, like this one, are important.
“If people are sitting down, if people are quiet, if… you’re not asking questions, bringing up awareness, nothing’s gonna be done about it,” she said.
City officials sought to reassure the public Monday after rumors circulated on social media that Until Freedom’s action might coincide with destruction around the city. Both LMPD and Mayor Greg Fischer said despite the rumors, the planned action would be peaceful, which it was.
Nonetheless LMPD designated Tuesday an “All Work-Day,” due to the planned protest. LMPD has arrested hundreds of protesters since demonstrations over racial justice began in late May following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Taylor.
Tuesday’s demonstration is the culmination of a four-day event called “BreonnaCon,” which included empowerment seminars, discussions of policies, a “Bre-B-Q” and a religious service. BreonnaCon was deemed “inappropriate” and potentially exploitative of Taylor’s legacy by some local activists. But Taylor’s family attended a number of the events and organizers said they’ve been involved with the entire event.
The FBI and Kentucky’s attorney general are currently overseeing investigations into Taylor’s death. Neither has put a timeline on when those investigations might conclude.
More photos from Tuesday’s protests are below: