Breonna Taylor protests: legislator accuses police of detaining her on false pretenses | Breonna Taylor

A Kentucky legislator who was arrested during demonstrations over the Breonna Taylor case has accused Louisville police of detaining her and about 20 allies on false pretenses and called for charges to be dropped.

State representative Attica Scott, the only Black woman in the Kentucky legislature, was arrested with her 19-year-old daughter, prominent activist Shameka Parrish-Wright and others on Thursday, during protests against a grand jury decision on Wednesday to clear police of homicide charges in the shooting death of Taylor.

Taylor, who was Black, was shot multiple times on 13 March after her boyfriend fired at officers who entered her home during a narcotics raid, authorities said. Taylor’s boyfriend said he didn’t know who was coming in and fired in self-defense, wounding one officer.

Kentucky’s Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, announced a grand jury indicted one officer on wanton endangerment charges, saying he fired gunshots into a neighboring home that didn’t hit anyone. That officer has been fired.

Cameron said the other officers were not charged because they acted to protect themselves.

Louisville has become the latest flashpoint in nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, following months of demonstrations after the 25 May killing of George Floyd when a Minnesota police officer knelt on his neck.

On Saturday night, a diverse crowd of hundreds marched in Louisville’s streets chanting “Black Lives Matter”. People also chanted “No justice, no peace”. As a 9pm curfew approached, a police loudspeaker announced that anyone who remained in the park would be arrested. The square emptied, many dispersing though one group headed to a church where protesters had found refuge on previous nights.

As a crowd gathered outside the First Unitarian church, fires were set in a street nearby. Police said fireworks burned a car, and windows were broken at Spalding University. Police tweeted that arrests would be made, but numbers weren’t immediately released.

Some demonstrators were seen with makeshift shields made of plywood. Others took shelter inside the church, which closed its doors around midnight.

It was the fourth night of protests after the grand jury decision, though the city has seen more than 120 days of demonstrations since Taylor was killed. Scott, the main sponsor of the proposed “Breonna’s Law” that would expand police oversight, said her arrest on Thursday “felt like retaliation”.

Police officers stand guard as demonstrators march during a peaceful protest in Louisville, Kentucky on 26 September.
Police officers stand guard as demonstrators march during a peaceful protest in Louisville, Kentucky on 26 September. Photograph: Eduardo Muñoz/Reuters

“They knew exactly who I was when I got to the jail,” she said.

Scott said that when she was arrested, a group of about 20 protesters intended to obey a 9pm curfew but were met by a line of police. Her account is supported by video she posted on social media.

Scott, her daughter and Parrish-Wright were held overnight on charges of felony first-degree rioting, which carries a sentence of one to five years in prison, in addition to the misdemeanor offenses of failure to disperse and unlawful assembly, police said.

She said police accused her of vandalizing the library, which she called “absurd”. A statement by the library workers union called her a “vocal supporter for libraries”.

“How dare LMPD say that I was trying to burn down our library,” Scott said. “Come up with some better lies.”

Louisville police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Saturday evening, Louisville’s mayor, Greg Fischer, urged continued peaceful protests.

“I’m mindful that many in our community are hurting and angry about the decisions announced this week,” he said, adding that he supported protesters’ first amendment rights to protest.

Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, visited a downtown park on Friday with family and lawyers, and called on Kentucky officials to release all body camera footage, police files and transcripts of grand jury proceedings. Palmer said in a statement she felt the criminal justice system had failed her. She marched at the head of Friday’s protest.

There, the grand jury’s ruling weighed heavily on protesters like Amber Brown, a central figure in the downtown demonstrations.

“It feels like we went backward,” she said. “I think people are still in shock and we’re not sure how to move forward.”

Brown criticized the police crackdown that has been in effect since early in the week.

“People are afraid to exercise their first amendment right,” she said. “Since when does protest have a curfew? Since when does freedom and civil rights have a curfew?”