Protests erupt in US over charges in Breonna Taylor shooting

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Protests erupt in US over charges in Breonna Taylor shooting

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

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KENTUCKY, United States (AFP) - Angry protesters demanded justice for Breonna Taylor in cities across the United States on Wednesday after charges were filed against only one policeman involved in the controversial fatal shooting of the 26-year-old black woman, whose name has become a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The biggest protest was in Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky, where Taylor was killed in March, but demonstrators took to the streets across the nation - from New York and Boston to Washington to Los Angeles.

Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired in June, was charged by a grand jury with three counts of "wanton endangerment" over shots he fired into apartments adjoining Taylor's home.

But neither Hankison nor the two officers who fired the shots that killed Taylor were charged in direct connection with her death.

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Louisville following the announcement, and Ben Crump, a lawyer for the Taylor family, condemned the grand jury decision as "outrageous and offensive”.

Police in riot gear were seen making several arrests in the afternoon, and after night fell police used flash bangs to clear hundreds of protesters from Jefferson Square Park, where a memorial to Taylor was placed.

"Say her name - Breonna Taylor," they chanted. "No lives matter till black lives matter."

A state of emergency and a 9:00 pm curfew has been declared by the mayor of the city, which has a population of 600,000, with much of downtown closed to traffic.

Some downtown business owners boarded up their shops in anticipation of unrest sparked by the grand jury decision.

Taylor, an emergency room technician, was shot dead after three plainclothes policemen turned up at her door in the middle of the night to execute a search warrant.

Taylor's boyfriend, who was in bed with her, grabbed a gun and exchanged fire with the officers. He later said he thought they were criminals.

The officers, who had not activated their body cameras as required, shot Taylor multiple times, killing her. A police sergeant was wounded.

"Breonna Taylor deserves justice," 17-year-old black protester Decorryn Adams told AFP. "Nothing will change if we don't stick together."

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Hankison had not fired the fatal shots and the two other officers who opened fire had done so in self-defense.

He said Hankison was charged with three counts of "wanton endangerment" over shots he fired into adjoining apartments. He could face five years in prison for each count if convicted.

"This is a tragedy," Cameron said. "I know that not everyone will be satisfied with the charges reported today.

"Every person has an idea of what they think justice is."

Crump expressed disappointment on behalf of the family.

"This is outrageous and offensive to Breonna Taylor's memory," he said in a statement. "It's yet another example of no accountability for the genocide of persons of color by white police officers.”


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