Violent protests rock the US
The US city of Louisville is preparing for another night of curfew and violent protests over the news no one would face charges for the police killing of Breonna Taylor.
Ms Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman, was shot dead in her apartment earlier this year after officers executed a no-knock search warrant.
The new night of protests come a day after the Kentucky city was rocked by dramatic and violent scenes that saw more than 120 people arrested and the shooting of two police officers.
“We’ve seen enough tragedy,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said after the violent night.
“Violence will only be a source of pain not a cure for pain.
“Violence is not the answer and destruction is not the answer.”
Protests erupted around the US, the largest being in Louisville, after a grand jury decided not to directly charge anyone in connection with the killing of Ms Taylor – a decision her lawyer blamed on the “devil of racism”.
Thousands of people took to the streets in Louisville and surrounded Ms Taylor’s home to demand justice for the 26-year-old paramedic.
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The demonstrations began peacefully but quickly turned violent as protesters clashed with police in riot gear.
Mr Fischer confirmed two police officers had been shot on Wednesday night during the protest.
One was treated for a leg wound and released from the hospital while the other – shot in the abdomen – had undergone surgery but is expected to recover.
“What we saw last night with the two officers being shot is obviously completely unacceptable,” Mr Fischer said.
Louisville police chief Robert Schroeder said a suspect, Larynzo Johnson, had been arrested and charged with two counts of assault and 14 counts of “wanton endangerment”.
Mr Schroeder said there had been a total of 127 arrests across the city, Kentucky’s largest with a population of 600,000, and at least 16 instances of looting.
He said a 9pm to 6.30am curfew would remain in place on Thursday and Friday.
Much of the CBD was closed to traffic, and several shops boarded up in anticipation of more violence.
The protests are the latest from the Black Lives Matter movement, who say Ms Taylor’s death is just the latest in many racially unjust killings of African-American people.
Ms 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.
Ms Taylor’s boyfriend, who was in bed with her on the night she was killed, exchanged fire with the officers, who he said he thought were criminals.
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 Mr Hankison nor the two officers who fired the shots that killed Taylor were charged in direct connection with her death.
“Until we afford black people the basic rights promised by our founders – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and end the rampage of the devil of racism, we will know no peace,” her family’s lawyer and renowned civil rights activist Ben Crump said in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.
Although the city centre was calm on Thursday morning, Marcus Reed, a black 52-year-old barbecue restaurant owner, was braced for more trouble ahead.
“There’s going to be more violence tonight,” Mr Reed told AFP.
“People are tired. They can kill us and get away with it and keep doing it. They just get a spank on the wrist.”
President Donald Trump, who is campaigning for re-election on a “law-and-order” platform and has repeatedly stoked fears about violence, tweeted that he was “praying” for the officers who were shot.
Seething protests have rocked America’s cities for months, with the movement’s anger fed by a stream of deaths of black people at the hands of police, and exacerbated by badly fractured national politics and inflammatory rhetoric by Mr Trump.
Kentucky Attorney-General Daniel Cameron said the two officers who had fired the shots that killed Ms Taylor had done so in self-defence, and would therefore not be charged.
Mr Cameron called Ms Taylor’s death a “tragedy,” and said he knew “not everyone will be satisfied with the charges”.
He also contradicted reports that the officers had executed a “no-knock” search warrant on Ms Taylor’s home, bursting in without warning.
“They did knock and announce,” he said, citing a witness.
The city of Louisville settled a wrongful-death suit with Ms Taylor’s family for $US12 million last week.
The civil settlement reflected the public pressure and emotion surrounding her death, which came about two months before that of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, sparking nationwide anger.
– With AFP