LOUISVILLE, KY. — Sunday’s protests in downtown Louisville that demanded justice for Breonna Taylor were peaceful. However, tear gas was still dispensed before curfew to breakup the crowd and protestors wondered why.
Throughout the day, more than a thousand people marched and chanted. There were many actions on display that showed the protests were peaceful.
The day started in the afternoon with a group praying in a circle at Jefferson Square Park.
“Praying for the violence in this city; praying for peace in the city; praying for healing in the city; praying for justice in the city. The right way,” said Dr. Ruth Wilson who is the pastor and founder of Shekinah Glory International Ministries.
As the crowd grew so did police presence with local and state police backed up by the National Guard.
However, the protests were still peaceful. The strongest display of this was a hug by Louisville teacher Tonya Trumbo and Officer Paris of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD).
Less than 15 minutes after the embrace, tear gas dispensed to disperse the crowd in the heart of downtown.
A protestor who didn’t want to provide her name said she heard the warning to disperse but she was confused as to why tear gas was dispensed.
“Everyone was calm and peaceful and just trying to help each other out.”
Many other protesters had the same question and LMPD answered during a press conference the same night.
LMPD’s Assistant Chief of Police LaVita Chavous said the protests were always unlawful because there was no permit issued to protest.
“We have allowed the blocking of street access simply to be accommodating to people and allow them to voice their opinions and views in a positive and peaceful way, but I want you to know that LMPD could have legally taken the steps a lot earlier than we did,” Chavous said.
Chavous further explained that it wasn’t until LMPD became concerned for the community’s and officers’ safety that it declared the protests to be an unlawful gathering and chose to shut it down before the 9 p.m. ET curfew.
Chavous also said LMPD received intelligence that anarchists were in the crowd that wanted to turn something peaceful into something ugly.
“We saw people with weapons, people putting on shields, trying to come looking for a fight, so to speak. There were a lot of people that had chemicals that they were mixing and so we saw this, and we also got intelligence that we knew that people were preparing to try to make this a peaceful protest turn into something ugly and get people hurt,” Chavous said.
LMPD also said it doesn’t have to wait until curfew to address something that is a safety issue.