Police in Louisville, Kentucky, announced Sunday that they are banning street marches and protest caravans after a “violent clash with police" that resulted in 12 arrests. This is a standard First Amendment suppression tactic from the police — escalate tensions with their presence and then declare the assembly “violent" and thus unlawful.

In a self-serving Twitter thread, the Louisville Metro Police Department declared that it "continues to balance the First Amendment right to protest with the public safety needs of the entire community."

That's a laughable assertion considering Louisville cops didn't seem to “prioritize the public safety needs of the entire community" when they burst into Breonna Taylor's home on March 13 and shot her dead while she slept. Taylor's name isn't mentioned once in a message spanning five tweets, but her senseless death is why people are protesting.

For nearly 75 days, Louisville residents have taken to the streets to express their desire for accountability and change.

This isn't a parade. If people are still celebrating the Fourth of July in the middle of September, that's annoying, but protesters had specific demands, none of which have been met. The most obvious was the arrest of the officers who killed Taylor.


Metro police officer Brett Hankison was fired in June after Police Chief Rob Schroeder claimed Hankison "violated procedure" — or if you're not a cop, "murdered someone" — when he "used deadly force without knowing the force was directed at a person who posed an immediate threat." As Malcolm X might say, we're not satisfied. A single police officer's career setback isn't justice. I presume white people wouldn't like it if Black gangs burst into their homes, killed them, and their only punishment was to lose their jobs at Walmart.

Hankison's accomplices in blue, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, are on administrative leave, or paid vacation. They are enjoying a separate and hardly equal form of justice. The Louisville police have not hesitated to arrest protesters for allegedly shooting paintballs at motorists and destroying property. Those are certainly crimes, but so is shooting a woman to death in her own bed.

From The Guardian:

Legal experts say the officers involved in Taylor's shooting – Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove – certainly can be arrested. Prosecutors wield tremendous discretion in their decisions to bring charges, and "probable cause," the legal standard of proof needed for an arrest is "an exceedingly low bar", said Colin Miller, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law researching the Kentucky criminal code on behalf of lawyers representing Taylor's family. "If you have a shooting death, it's going to be pretty difficult to argue you can't at least charge some type of crime in that case, whether it be endangerment manslaughter or murder."

However, it's highly unlikely Taylor's killers will ever see the inside of a courtroom as defendants. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is a smirking Donald Trump stooge. He's the special prosecutor you bring in to bury these types of cases. It takes moral courage for a prosecutor to charge cops with so much as jaywalking. Cameron is a Black Republican with political ambitions in a red state. He's not gonna go full Jack McCoy for Breonna Taylor. When her mother asked to speak with him, Cameron had someone else call her back. He was probably too busy releasing his engagement photos this summer. Isn't it wonderful to be young and alive? Breonna Taylor was unavailable for comment.

This is why the protests will continue. They won't fade away, no matter how inconvenient to others who'd prefer to let Breonna Taylor become another statistic. In an op-ed Monday, the New York Post claimed that "radicals, cop-bashers and downright criminals have hijacked Black Lives Matter protests." That's a lie, of course — unless they mean the actual cop-killing Boogaloo boys, but somehow they never, ever do — and it's the intent of conservatives to ignore peaceful protesters and instead claim angry, marginalized citizens are commie radicals.

The Post insists that “the right to dissent is a bedrock American freedom. But when the right to assemble infringes on the rights of others to go about their business, as in Louisville, a constitutional line is crossed."

That's a load of crap. Lunch-counter sit-ins during the 1960s were inherently disruptive. It's hard to enjoy a burger when cops are forcibly removing Black people from the premises. Also, mass shootings have almost become routine and certainly infringe on the rights of others to “go about their business," but no one — certainly not in Kentucky — dares suggest banning guns in public.

Louisville police want public submission and resignation. Breonna Taylor deserves better and the protests won't end until she receives justice, no matter if that takes another 75 or 750 days.

[The Guardian / New York Post / Twitter]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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