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Kentucky lawmaker, sponsor of 'Breonna's Law,' back on protest line after arrest

On the third day of protests in Louisville, local Democrats called for an investigation into the arrest of state Rep. Attica Scott.
Image: People react after a decision in the criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, in Louisville
Demonstrators march in Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The state lawmaker behind a police reform bill known as "Breonna's Law" was back on the streets with protesters Friday after being arrested with a group of demonstrators the previous night.

Rep. Attica Scott, D-Frankfort, joined a few hundred others downtown for the third night of demonstrations after the state attorney general announced Wednesday that no charges would be brought against police for the killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was asleep in her home when officers came to her door.

"Every day this week, the numbers have grown, especially after the unjust arrests this week," Scott said Friday, referring to the arrests of herself and others. "It’s beautiful, it's amazing and it’s what we’ve been pushing for months now: love, community and solidarity."

Image: People react after a decision in the criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, in Louisville
A protester is detained by Louisville Police officers during a march, at a memorial in Louisville, Kentucky, on Sept. 25, 2020.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

According to the arrest report, she was "part of a large group" ordered to disperse but that "failed to do so."

"Subjects caused extensive damage at multiple locations including setting fire to the Louisville public library," the report said.

Scott faced allegations of felony rioting, failure to disperse and unlawful assembly, according to the report. She disputed disputed the allegations and said she was an advocate for the library.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky, said on Facebook, "To accost, accuse, arrest, and charge her with setting fire to a library of all things—apparently minutes before the curfew was even in effect—is as stupid as it is untrue."

The Louisville Jefferson County Democratic Party called for an investigation into Scott's arrest. It said in a statement that Scott's adult daughter, Ashanti Scott, was also arrested Thursday night.

Taylor was killed In March when police executed a "no knock" search warrant at her apartment. Her boyfriend shot toward the door in fear and struck an officer. Police returned fire, killing Taylor.

On Wednesday, it was announced that a grand jury charged only one officer, who had fired into a neighbor's apartment, with "wanton endangerment."

Demonstrators protested the decision that night when two police officers were injured in a shooting. On Thursday night as some protesters sought refuge at a church and police moved in to make arrests, Scott was taken into custody.

Scott introduced "Breonna's Law," a proposed bill that would require police to use body cameras when serving warrants and knock and verbally announce themselves during raids.

Image: People react after a decision in the criminal case against police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, in Louisville
Demonstrators march in Louisville, Kentucky, on Sept. 25, 2020.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

On Friday night, Tamika Palmer, Taylor's mother, was leading a group of protesters in the city center. Lonita Baker, an attorney for Taylor’s family, applauded the community for showing their support and for calling for justice.

“It’s what we needed,” said Baker. “When you see numbers like this come out, these people are going to turn into voting numbers.”

Protester Nicole Aghaaliandastjerdi said she was protesting for Taylor's family.

“I believe the community here is so strong, and we want Tamika Palmer and her family to know that we love her,” she said.

The protest was declared unlawful, police launched flash-bang devices and people started to move out later in the evening. A 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. curfew was in effect through Monday morning.

Some demonstrators again moved toward the First Unitarian Church, where protesters successfully sought refuge Thursday night.

“We will continue to show up as long as justice is not served,” said demonstrator Reena Paracha. “When justice is served, we will stop coming to the streets.”

A Louisville police spokesman said there were 23 arrests Friday, and more details on those arrests were expected to be released Saturday.

Earlier in the day, a man who allegedly shined a laser pointer at a Louisville Metro Police Department helicopter shortly after midnight Friday was charged with violating federal law, prosecutors said.

Manuel Martin Salazarleija Jr., 25, of Louisville, told investigators he believed the aircraft was being used to monitor protests, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky and a criminal complaint.

The helicopter was in the area to monitor a vehicle fleeing the scene of a burglary at a Walgreens, officials said. Salazarleija used the laser pointer from the third-floor bedroom window in his home, officials said.

The officers suffered headaches that interfered with their ability to safely operate the helicopter, but both were OK, a police spokesman said.

Online court documents did not list an attorney for Salazarlejia.

Protests were also held in other cities.

In Oakland, California, police tweeted that bottles and cans had been thrown at officers as a crowd of more than 250 demonstrated. Police said that they used "minimal smoke" and made arrests for assaults on officers, but no damage to businesses was reported.

There were also protests in West Hollywood in the Los Angeles area and in San Diego. A spokesman for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department said 10 people were detained in protests, but it not immediately clear if they were arrested.

Three people were arrested in San Diego police said, one for allegedly stealing a cell phone from someone recording protesters and two others for allegedly interfering in an arrest.

Chloe Atkins reported from Louisville and Dennis Romero from California.