Dozens of people were arrested Monday after protesters in Louisville parked cars on a major bridge, blocking traffic between Kentucky and Indiana for nearly three hours to demand justice for the late Breonna Taylor.
News helicopter video showed protesters making their way onto Clark Memorial Bridge around 11 a.m. and blocking traffic. They hung a large sign with Taylor’s image that read: “They tried to bury me. They didn’t know I was a seed. Breonna Taylor. The revolution is now.”
One protester at the scene was seen carrying a rifle and scope, according to a WAVE local news reporter. Louisville Metro Police Department officers reached protesters on the bridge by 1 p.m. and told them to disperse. Authorities said 33 people were arrested when they refused to comply, and 19 cars were removed.
Those arrested were seen handcuffed, sitting on the sidewalk before being taken into custody and transported in a police van. Tow trucks removed stranded vehicles.
The protest followed an incident at a tent encampment in Jefferson Square Park, where gunfire erupted Saturday; a protester had opened fire, wreaking chaos among campers who also were armed. Tyler Charles Gerth, 27, a photographer from Louisville, died of a gunshot wound.
Steven Nelson Lopez, 23, identified from surveillance footage as the first to begin shooting, pleaded not guilty to murder and nine counts of wanton endangerment during an arraignment hearing Tuesday, the Courier-Journal reported. Bail for Lopez, who also was wounded in the incident, was set at $500,000.
Officers on Monday stood in a line at the foot of the Clark Memorial Bridge, which stretches over the Ohio River, to redirect traffic and block additional protesters from interfering. A video captured by a local WHAS reporter showed an exchange between a black police officer and black protesters at the foot of the bridge.
“I got black daughters. So don’t threaten me,” the officer told protesters, making a connection between himself and the police killing of Breonna Taylor. “I’m gonna be pissed off just like everybody else.”
“Ya’ll have a right to be. But when you do stupid stuff – that ya’ll ain’t doing – but other people are doing, we got to show up,” the officer continued, gesturing to fellow officers at the scene.
Another video taken at the scene showed a black officer bowing his head to pray with a black protester. A white officer at his side also bows his head in prayer.
“We just ask God that you help us to find common ground out here today on all levels. We just ask for peace for this city. We just ask for peace for the family of Breonna Taylor,” the black officer said.
Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was killed in her Louisville apartment on March 13 by plainclothes detectives who were serving a no-knock warrant in a drug investigation. No drugs were found, and one of the officers was recently fired. Two other officers remain on administrative reassignment.
Calls for action against the officers have gotten louder during a national reckoning over racism and police brutality following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25.
Kentucky government officials said Monday they will begin an investigation into the city of Louisville's handling of the fatal police shooting of Taylor.
"The citizens of this community, including members of this Metro Council, have been very upset with the perceived lack of transparency by the city,” said Brent Ackerson, who chairs the Louisville Metro Council's government oversight committee. “It’s our intention, as a committee, to formally begin an investigation, to bring people in and get legitimate answers and legitimate documentation.”
Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said he welcomed the review. She said Fischer already has authorized a thorough review of the Louisville Metro Police Department and a separate investigation of actions related to the Taylor case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.