On September 23, knowing that there would be backlash for their decision, streets in downtown Louisville were blocked off officials, police put on high alert, and government buildings were boarded up as officials announced the charges against former officer Brett Hankison for his role in the raid which left Breonna Taylor dead.
The subsequent outrage was well deserved as Hankison was not charged for anything that led to the death of Taylor. Instead, this trigger happy cowboy cop was charged with “first degree wanton endangerment” for shooting like a madman into neighboring apartments during the raid.
Despite Taylor being completely innocent and murdered while unarmed inside of her own home, and despite her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, being ruled justified in shooting at the officers during the raid — not a single cop has faced a slap on the wrist for actions that left this hero EMT dying in her own hallway.
On the contrary, however, the Free Thought Project has examined multiple reports and over 200 people have been arrested protesting Taylor’s death in Louisville alone. In just one night, after the charges were announced, police arrested 127 people in Louisville for protesting. While a handful of the arrests were for actual crimes, the majority of arrests were for curfew violations and protesting without permission — otherwise known as unlawful assembly.
Journalists were not safe either. According to a report in Forbes, in a single night two journalists from The Daily Caller were also arrested, according to editor-in-chief Geoffrey Ingersoll, who said Shelby Talcott and Jorge Ventura will be charged with two misdemeanors related to breaking curfew and unlawful assembly for their “alleged failure to comply with police orders to disperse and for press to relegate themselves to an ‘observation area.’”
On the second night, even more people were arrested, and again, it was not for harming people or property. It was for “unlawful assembly.” Police often use the unlawful assembly tactic to clear protests and then resort to a tactic referred to as “kettling.”
An unlawful assembly is declared and large cordons of police officers move to contain a crowd within a limited area. Protesters are left only one choice of exit controlled by the police where they face arrest – or are completely prevented from leaving — with the effect of denying the protesters access to food, water and toilet facilities for a time period determined by the police forces.
Essentially, people who stay out past the curfew are being kettled by cops who do not allow them to leave and then are tear gassed, pepper sprayed, beaten with batons, and then arrested.
Illustrating the arbitrary nature of the arrests is the fact that during the second night of protests in Louisville, State Rep. Attica Scott was arrested and charged with first-degree rioting, a felony, and two misdemeanor counts: unlawful assembly and failure to disperse. According to Scott, she had done no such rioting however, and was merely out past curfew and part of an unlawful assembly.
“Right now I’m very disgusted and angry that LMPD (Louisville Metro Police Department) would levy these false charges against me … and other folks,” Scott told reporters after the arrest.
The following night, more people were arrested and assaulted by police as they protested the death of Breonna Taylor.
If we look as far back as July, we count well over 300 arrests of protesters attempting to seek justice for Breonna Taylor. And, according to NBC, since protests began in Louisville, the police have made roughly 800 arrests, from a “Granny for Breonna” to children as young as 13, police data shows.
This has been the case, not only in Louisville but in cities across the country as thousands have been arrested and brutalized while protesting police killings. Yes, we understand that some of the people involved in protesting. As we reported, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), which is a disaggregated data collection, analysis, and crisis mapping project that collects raw data on political violence and protest events across the world, found that the US has seen an unprecedented surge in protests in 2020. In a short time frame, ACLED recorded more than 10,600 demonstration events across the country.
While many will attempt to paint all the protests as violent, 95% or rather 10,100 took place without property damage or violence. While 95% is certainly the overwhelming majority, that does leave over 500 protests which devolved into demonstrators engaging in violence and property damage. Hundreds of instances of property damage and violence is no small number but in comparison to the total number of protests, it certainly is.
Those enacting violence and destruction and theft wholeheartedly deserve to be held accountable for their actions. Those who are arrested for merely having a voice against police brutality, however, serve as ominous indicators of the encroaching police state.
When protesting police brutality is met with more police brutality, it may be time to rethink the role of law enforcement in America.