More than 120 people were arrested overnight in the US city of Louisville, officials confirmed on Thursday, as the announcement that no one would be charged with the killing of Breonna Taylor sent fresh demands for racial justice billowing across the US.
Protests were held in cities including New York, Washington and Los Angeles on Wednesday, but the focal point was Taylor’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, where the 26-year-old black woman was shot dead in her apartment by police earlier this year.
Thousands of people flooded the city’s streets to demand justice for the emergency room technician, who has become a symbol for the Black Lives Matter movement, after a grand jury said it had decided not to charge anyone with her killing.
But the demonstrations — which began peacefully — quickly degenerated into violence as protesters clashed with security personnel in riot gear and using flashbang grenades.
Two police officers were shot in the confrontation. Both survived and were hospitalised in stable condition, authorities said.
“There was a total of 127 arrests during the protest last evening into early this morning,” police department spokesman Dwight Mitchell said.
Among them was a suspect in the shooting of the police officers, local media reported. One conservative outlet, the Daily Caller, said two of its journalists were also among those detained.
Taylor was shot dead on March 13 after three plainclothes policemen appeared at her door in the middle of the night to execute a search warrant.
More than six months later, a grand jury on Wednesday charged detective Brett Hankison with three counts of “wanton endangerment” over shots fired into adjoining apartments.
But neither Hankison nor the two officers who fired the shots that killed Taylor were charged in direct connection with her death.
“Nothing seems to say that Breonna mattered,” her family’s lawyer Ben Crump told NBC’s Today Show on Thursday in response to the verdict.
Top US athletes who have backed the Black Lives Matter movement added their voices to the wave of dismay. “Something was done, but it wasn’t enough,” Los Angeles Lakers guard Danny Green told reporters on Wednesday.
Louisville would remain under curfew on Friday from 9pm to 6:30am, with much of downtown closed to traffic, and several shops boarded up in anticipation of more violence in the city of 600,000.
Although the city centre was calm on Thursday morning, Marcus Reede, a 52-year-old barbecue restaurant owner, was braced for more trouble ahead. “There’s going to be more violence tonight,” he said. “People are tired.”