Kentucky: Elderly whites protest for slain Black woman
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Unable to march in the streets, a group of white senior citizens staged a sit-in outside the home of Kentucky’s attorney general to demand justice for Breonna Taylor on Thursday.
One of them ended up getting arrested and six others were given citations, police said.
More than a dozen protesters gathered on the front lawn of Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s suburban Louisville home. They sat in chairs they brought and held up signs that included: “Grannies for Breonna,” and “Listen to Your Elders, Black Lives Matter,” said 78-year-old protester Dotti Lockhart.
“We can’t march,” Lockhart said in a phone interview. “We all wanted to be involved in some kind of action for Breonna Taylor’s family. ... I thought that a direct action and a little civil disobedience would be something we could risk.”
Mary Carrigan Holden, who spent her time during the sit-in mending a dress, was arrested and charged with criminal trespass at the end of the approximately hourlong protest.
The 68-year-old retired teacher later said it was worth getting arrested because Louisville needs “to wake up and make sure we’re on the right side of history.”
Cameron is leading the investigation into whether Louisville police officers involved in Taylor’s death will be criminally charged for their actions in the early morning hours of March 13.
Taylor, a Black 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot multiple times when officers burst into her apartment with a warrant during a drug investigation. No drugs were found.
Since then, the names of Taylor and George Floyd have been on the lips of demonstrators nationwide, and their deaths have become part of a national reckoning over racism and police actions. Floyd, a Black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee on the handcuffed man’s neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air.
Cameron has declined to put a timetable on deciding whether to bring charges. He has said he’s waiting for information on ballistics tests being conducted by the FBI.
Protesters have gathered previously outside Cameron’s home and at Kentucky’s Capitol in Frankfort to demand justice for Taylor.
On Thursday, one protester outside Cameron’s home was arrested on a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge and six others were given citations, said Grady Throneberry, police chief for Graymoor-Devondale, a suburban city outside Louisville.
“They were all told that they could move to the street, stay on the side of the street, as long as they didn’t impede traffic and that would be fine,” the chief said. “But they had to leave the lawn.”
Holden, was arrested after she declined to leave, he said.
John Mills, a deputy police chief, told The Courier Journal that six people who received citations for criminal trespassing moved off the lawn.
Holden later said she had avoided mass protests demanding justice for Taylor because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Holden has a preexisting health condition.
“I took a risk today because sometimes ideals are more important than health,” she said.
The senior citizens wore masks during their sit-in, Holden said. She was not handcuffed by police and “camped out” by a hand sanitizer dispenser during her booking, she said.
Lockhart, a retired school teacher, said she was among those cited. The protesters planned to sit silently for an hour and then leave, but police arrived quickly, she said.
“We felt like elderly white people standing up for justice, for Black families and Black people was worth the risk of arrest, the risk of being cited,” Lockhart said.
Some legal experts have said prosecutors might face significant obstacles to bringing homicide-related charges against the officers. Taylor’s boyfriend was with her at the apartment and fired a shot at a police officer after the door was broken down. The officer was struck in the leg and returned fire, along with other officers outside the apartment. Taylor was unarmed.