Louisville drops curfew, legislator wants rioting law redefined

Mid-South

State Rep. Attica Scott speaks during a news conference, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. Breonna Taylor’s family attorney Ben Crump is calling for the Kentucky attorney general to release the transcripts from the grand jury that decided not to charge any of the officers involved in the Black woman’s death. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (NewsNation Now) — A curfew is being lifted in Louisville, where many people have been charged with refusing to stop their nighttime protests after a grand jury’s decision not to charge officers in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he has allowed the curfew to expire as of 6:30 a.m. Monday.

“The curfew served its purpose of helping ensure that most people were home safe by 9 p.m., because our past experience had shown that most violence and destruction occurs after dark,” the mayor’s statement said.

“We sadly saw some violence, including the shooting of two police officers, one of whom remains hospitalized, dealing with complications of his injuries. But we believe the curfew helped, by ensuring fewer people were out late in the day.”

Fischer said barriers and traffic restrictions set up in downtown last week will remain, but will be assessed daily.

A state lawmaker said she will propose changing Kentucky’s legal definition of rioting after Democratic State Rep. Attica Scott was charged with the felony while participating in Louisville protests for racial justice.

Kentucky State Rep. Lisa Willner, a Louisville Democrat, said she plans to file a new bill request Monday that would redefine the criminal charge, local television station WHAS-TV reported. Willner announced the move Sunday during a news conference at Jefferson Square Park, the hub of protests during months of demonstrations in the city.

Scott, the state’s only Black woman representative, was arrested and charged Thursday night with first-degree rioting, unlawful assembly and failure to disperse.

Police said Scott was in a group that disobeyed orders to disperse, and that members of the group damaged buildings and set fire to a library.

Scott has called the charges “ludicrous” and said she would never be involved in setting fire to a library. She said she was arrested by officers who surrounded her as she walked with her daughter to the sanctuary of a church.

Kentucky law defines a riot as a public disturbance involving five or more people “which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government function.”

The law defines first-degree rioting as knowingly participating in a riot that causes injury to a person who is not rioting, or causes substantial property damage.

Scott said she and her daughter had joined protesters gathered downtown Thursday evening and they were driving to a church that offered refuge to people who would otherwise be caught on the street in violation of a curfew. Police blocked their route, so they parked and walked to the church instead. Officers then converged on them to make arrests before the curfew took effect, Scott said.

“LMPD swarmed us,” Scott said. “They started yelling, ‘Circle ‘em, circle ‘em.’ They wouldn’t let us leave to go back to our vehicle. And they wouldn’t let us literally cross the street to get to the church and sanctuary.”

Willner said what happened to Scott while she was seeking sanctuary “cannot happen again.”

Fischer said during a Sept. 25 media briefing that Louisville Metro Police Department worked with the sanctuary church saying “the minister worked with the LMPD so that the people in the church could go home after the area near the library was cleared.”

“Anyone who is part of a group causing damage or riotous behavior is subject to the charge of rioting, it does not require an individual to have participated in a specific destructive act,” said LMPD Interim Chief Robert Schroeder Friday, adding that a riot supersedes curfew hours.

“Because of the damage being done an unlawful assembly was declared, even though this is prior to curfew it means that people must disperse,” said Schroeder.

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