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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hundreds of people who took to the streets of Louisville on Saturday ran to churches and other indoor spaces as curfew fell across the city on the fourth night of nationwide protests after a grand jury did not indict three police officers directly connected to Breonna Taylor’s death.
People in more than a dozen cities and towns across the country on Saturday invoked Taylor’s name during gatherings demanding justice for her case. Larger marches and rallies took place in Portland, Nashville, Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C., Raleigh, Kansas City, Boston and Baltimore.
Smaller demonstrations also cropped up in Worcester, Massachusetts; Greenville, South Carolina; Poughkeepsie, New York; Akron, Ohio; and Daytona Beach, Florida. In Bristol, Pennsylvania, several dozen people held a candlelight vigil on the banks of the Delaware River.
Louisville saw one of its largest crowds in months. More than 500 protesters marched for nearly an hour around 7 p.m., chanting “This is what democracy looks like” and “Breeway.”
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The group returned to Jefferson Square Park, the heart of the ongoing protests, but dispersed by 9 p.m., running to “safe houses” as sirens blared and city and state police and National Guard vehicles drove by the area. At least four people on the sidewalk were arrested, according to reporters at the scene, but it wasn’t immediately clear what they were charged with.
Several people returned to First Unitarian Church, which protesters have used over the past two nights as a sanctuary from police after the curfew. The group stayed on church grounds for more than two hours — eating food, drinking water and debating next steps — before some began to leave.
Just before midnight, Louisville police said on Twitter that “marchers are starting to break windows, set fires (including a car), and destroy property.” The department said more arrests would be made.
Several windows at Spalding University and a nearby high school were broken, and a city map sign was shattered, according to the Louisville police live stream. A burned vehicle was sitting in a parking lot. Fireworks had ignited the car, which was engulfed in flames before the fire department arrived and extinguished the fire, according to the live stream.
Earlier Saturday, a small group of people gathered outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home in Louisville for the second consecutive day. The dozen or so protesters used spoons to hit pots and pans while they chanted “Vote him out” and “Say her name,” referring to Taylor.
The night before, 22 people were arrested in Louisville after violating curfew. Many were charged with unlawful assembly and failure to disperse, all misdemeanors.
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Protests continue in Raleigh, Nashville, Chicago
Hundreds of people in Raleigh, North Carolina, gathered downtown Saturday and headed toward a police precinct as officers in riot gear stood outside the courthouse, according to local news reports and social media posts. At one point, someone in a group of protesters threw a firework toward a group of police officers, and it exploded in the air between the two groups, according to video posted to Twitter by a local reporter.
Around 10 p.m. ET, Raleigh police said on Twitter that protesters were breaking windows and damaging property, and police declared an unlawful assembly. The department said it had extinguished a small fire and was making arrests.
In Nashville, about 300 protesters gathered and marched around the State Capitol and downtown after a series of speeches from legislators, Black Lives Matter representatives, community organizers and members of People’s Plaza Tennessee, a group that set up camp outside the Capitol for 62 days.
“Every institution is perpetuating a total indifference to the value of Black lives,” said Xtiana Danielle, a member of the People’s Plaza group, which is calling for the police to be defunded and all Confederate monuments removed. “I’m sad, and I’m mad. This is a call to action. The final say is always white supremacy, and we can’t allow that anymore.”
Earlier in the day, dozens of people gathered in downtown Chicago for a “Say Her Name Rally,” where organizers gave pink roses to the Black women there and raised money for organizations led by Black women and girls, according to recordings of the event.
“Do you know what America has done to the Black woman?” said Dr. Niama Malachi, director of a youth development program who spoke at the rally. “Every day we are persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, abused and ridiculed, wrongly accused. And none of us are exempt.”
Protesters and counterprotesters face off in Portland, clash in Kansas City, Yorba Linda
In Portland, Oregon, hundreds of people – dozens of them wearing militarized body armor – gathered for a right-wing rally Saturday organized by the Proud Boys. The group, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has frequently clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters in the embattled city since Memorial Day, when the death of George Floyd in police custody prompted protests nationwide.
The group described it as a free speech event to support President Donald Trump and the police, restore law and order and condemn anti-fascists, “domestic terrorism” and “violent gangs of rioting felons” in the streets.
Police said at one point 1,000 other people gathered at a nearby park where local media reported that multiple anti-fascist groups planned to gather in response to the Proud Boys rally.
Law enforcement said the Proud Boys rally ended without serious violence and the counterprotest started “winding down.” Police are investigating an assault after a suspect kicked a man who was livestreaming at the rally.
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Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said police made three arrests and will maintain a “highly visible presence” to deter criminal activity. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday that she would invoke a state of emergency, sending in state troopers and sheriff’s deputies.
“The pattern of these particular groups is clear: to intimidate, instigate and inflame,” Brown said.
At a “march for equality” in Yorba Linda, California, south of Los Angeles, on Saturday protesters yelled at counter-protesters holding American and “Trump 2020” flags. The two groups were initially on opposite side of the street but later merged, engaging in physical altercations, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. At least one person was pepper-sprayed. About 40 minutes after the demonstrations began, officers declared an unlawful assembly.
A woman, who was part of the demonstrations, drove through the crowd and hit a man and a woman, who had non-life-threatening injuries and were taken by ambulance, according to the sheriff’s department. The man had possible broken legs and the woman had “multiple injuries all over her body,” according to Carrie Braun, director of public affairs for the department.
The woman who struck the two demonstrators was quickly detained and was being questioned. It was unclear if she would be arrested, Braun said.
“It’s unknown at this time if that was an intentional act or if that person was attempting to leave the area,” Braun said.
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Police in Kansas City, Missouri, arrested multiple people during clashes between demonstrators and counterprotesters at a pro-Trump truck rally that were caught on camera by a reporter on the scene. Altercations occasionally broke out between counterprotesters holding anti-Trump signs and the thousands driving in cars adorned with red, white and blue and pro-Trump slogans, according to the city’s NPR affiliate.
The Kansas City Missouri Police Department could not immediately be reached for comment.
In Seattle, dozens of people dressed in all black marched through the city Saturday evening. Some broke windows, sprayed graffiti and set fires in bins on the street, according to Seattle police. At least eight were arrested.
The group did not appear to be marching in honor of Breonna Taylor, according to Seattle police. It was not immediately clear who the group was.
Contributing: Joel Shannon, John Bacon and Jordan Culver, USA TODAY; Sandy Mazza, Nashville Tennessean; The Associated Press.