Breonna Taylor decision: Why has Louisville declared a state of emergency?
A decision on criminal charges from the grand jury has not yet been announced, but the city’s Mayor has already declared a state of emergency. Why?
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is soon expected to say publicly whether the officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor will face criminal charges.
Landmark Announcement on Breonna Taylor
On March 13, 2020 LMPD officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove entered Breonna Taylor’s home in plainclothes under a ‘no-knock’ entry warrant linked to an investigation into Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. Taylor was at home with boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who, believing the police were intruders and claiming that they did not announce themselves as required by law, shot and injured a police officer in the leg. During the forced entry 26-year-old Taylor, who worked as an emergency room technician, was shot 5 times, according to the death certificate. No money or drugs were subsequently found in the apartment.
The officer injured at the scene Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, in an email to his colleagues at the LMPD on Tuesday called protesters “punks”, “thugs” and said that he and other officers "did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night" when they fired their weapons during the search of Taylor's apartment.
Officer Brett Hankinson was fired after the shooting, while the other two officers were placed on administrative leave.
Mayor of Louisville: Use caution, don’t spread misinformation
In a video posted Tuesday, Mayor of Louisville Greg Fischer hit back at social media rumours pleading with citizens to ‘use caution’, not to spread misinformation or to base their plans on ‘unfounded and uninformed speculation online’.
Local newspaper the Courier Journal reports that protesters began marching down Liberty Street just before 20:00 (EDT) Tuesday 22 September and eventually returned to the park at Sixth and Jefferson streets.
“Preparing for any eventuality”
Fischer stressed that he doesn't know when an announcement on the Breonna Taylor case is coming but the move indicates that it may be soon. The Mayor issued two executive orders on Tuesday; one allowing the city to acquire “additional resources” ranging from personnel to supplies and the other closing certain downtown parking garages and limiting street parking.
“Our goal is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights after the announcement… we are preparing for any eventuality to keep everyone safe.” Fischer said.
The Louisville Police Department put in place a separate state of emergency Monday, which is separate from the Mayor’s declaration of emergency for the city.
Interim Chief Schroeder said that the LMPD state of emergency was called in order to provide for adequate staffing for any eventuality. All department vacation requests and off-days were cancelled to "ensure we have the appropriate level of staffing to provide for public safety services and our policing functions."
Ongoing unrest in Louisville
Protests have continued for almost 120 days in Louisville since May, and sparked two further fatal shootings and well over one hundred arrests.
In August the Guardian reported that legal experts have said that whether the officers will be charged is unclear, but may be unlikely given the protection that is offered to police.
Black Lives Matter: 93% Peaceful
Over 7,750 protests against police brutality have taken place in all 50 states throughout the spring and summer this year. According to a new report by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) 93% of protests have been peaceful.
It is thought that the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 have been the largest civil rights movement of all time. Protests have taken place in over 60 countries and on every continent except Antarctica. The wave of unrest was sparked by the police killing of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis.