Louisville protests: Seven people shot during demonstrations over police killing of Breonna Taylor

Andrew Naughtie
A demonstration in downtown Louisville, KY to protest the death of Breonna Taylor: AP

Seven people have been hit by gunfire in Louisville, Kentucky during a protest on Thursday night over the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her home by police earlier this year.

Of the people shot, two were taken to hospital for surgery, while the other five are reportedly in good condition. The precise origin of the shots is unclear, but authorities say they came from among the protesters.

Ms Taylor, an emergency medical technician, died on 13 March after being shot at least eight times by police officers who entered her Louisville apartment during a drug raid. The details of the raid are still a matter of dispute, but officers say they returned fire after Ms Taylor’s boyfriend shot one of them and that Ms Taylor was killed inadvertently.

Louisville mayor Greg Fischer described what happened at the protests in a video statement issued on Twitter. “While the situation is still unfolding, we know that there were several hours of peaceful protest before some in the crowd turned violent, leading to seven people being shot from within the crowd … No officers fired their weapons, and my thanks go to the police officers who, despite risks to themselves, got aid to those injured.

“I feel the community’s frustration, the anger, the fear, but tonight’s violence and destruction is not the way to solve it. Breonna’s death was a terrible tragedy, but as Breonna’s family said tonight, answering violence with violence is not the answer.”

Fischer also tweeted a message from Ms Taylor’s mother, posted on her behalf on Facebook, in which she called for protesters to stay calm. “We are so grateful for everyone giving Bre a voice tonight, for saying her name, for demanding truth, for demanding justice and for demanding accountability. Please keep demanding this. But please keep it peaceful.

“Do not succumb to the levels that we see out of the police. Speak. Protest. But do not resort to violence. We demand change. We demand reform. But we do not need for our community to get hurt. We need for our community to get justice. Thank you all so very much.”

Demonstrators gather in downtown Louisville, Ky., to protest the killing of Breonna Taylo (AP)

The incident in Louisville comes in parallel with several days of protest in Minneapolis after the killing of George Floyd, who died on Monday after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Those protests have seen buildings vandalised and burned, and the National Guard has now been called in to help keep the peace.

Observing the Kentucky protests, Louisville city councilwoman Keisha Dorsey told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the voices of those taking to the streets had to be heard.

“It is not a riot. It is a revolt against a system in which people have felt oppressed. What I’m seeing is people who are trying their best to do something with their hurt, their pain and their frustration.”