At least two police officers were shot and wounded on Wednesday, September 23, during unrest in Louisville (Kentucky) following a grand jury's ruling. Protests erupted though remained mainly peaceful during the day, though became violent with reports of clashes and confrontations between security forces and protesters after several hours. Riot police fired tear gas and pepper balls in efforts to disperse demonstrators. The demonstrations continued into nightfall, despite a nightly curfew in place between 21:00 and 06:00 (local time) until Saturday, September 26. Two police officers on duty during the demonstrations were shot and wounded; officials did not immediately confirm the shootings were related to the protests. One suspect has been arrested. Approximately a dozen people were arrested earlier in the day in a confrontation between hundreds of demonstrators and a group of police in the Highlands neighborhood just outside downtown Louisville. Protesters reportedly threw bottles at police, who responded firing pepper balls. Scuffles ensued between the groups and damage to infrastructure was reported.
Solidarity protests were held in several other cities, including New York, Washington, Atlanta, and Chicago. Further protests should be anticipated in the near term in Louisville and other cities across the country. A heightened security presence and associated disruptions should be anticipated at all protests.
Police declared a state of emergency in Louisville on Monday, September 21, ahead of the grand jury ruling. Authorities restricted access to the downtown area from Tuesday, September 22, erecting barricades around Jefferson Square Park and limiting access to the area between Market and Broadway streets, and 2nd Street and Roy Wilkins Avenue. Only pedestrians will be permitted to enter; vehicles are prohibited until further notice.
On September 23, former police officer, Brett Hankison, was indicted and charged with "wanton endangerment" for his involvement in the fatal March 13 shooting of a 26-year old black woman, Breonna Taylor. Hankison was charged for firing into a neighbour's apartment, not with Breonna's death. The grand jury also ruled that two other police officers involved will not be prosecuted in connection with the death of Breonna Taylor, as their use of force during a raid on her home was justified.
The death of Breonna provoked unrest in Louisville. The protests are also linked to wider unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd whilst he was being arrested by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. The four arresting police officers were subsequently fired and detained, and one has since been charged with second-degree murder. Demonstrations have occurred in several cities across the US, with solidarity protests taking place throughout the world.
Those in Louisville are advised to monitor developments, avoid protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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