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San Diegans protest decision not to charge officers in Breonna Taylor killing

Locals organized two protests Wednesday to denounce the Kentucky grand jury’s decision

Several hundred people marched through downtown San Diego Wednesday night to protest a Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to indict any Louisville police officers for the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Led by a “wall of moms” in matching yellow T-shirts, demonstrators marched down Broadway chanting Taylor’s name along with other social-justice slogans.

For the record:

12:15 PM, Sep. 24, 2020A previous version of this story misstated a chant heard outside the downtown San Diego Courthouse Wednesday afternoon. The story has since been updated with the correct wording. The Union-Tribune regrets the error.

Later in the night, after protesters had marched for about two hours, a smaller group made its way to the downtown San Diego police headquarters on Broadway, where officers clashed with the demonstrators on at least two occasions and arrested at least three individuals.

A San Diego police watch commander said early Thursday morning that he did not have information about how many arrests were made nor what crimes the arrestees were suspected of committing.

DeVaughn Walker speaks to protesters in front of San Diego Superior Court on Wednesday.
DeVaughn Walker speaks to protesters in front of San Diego Superior Court on Wednesday.
(Ariana Drehsler / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Before the peaceful march, the group of hundreds packed the corner of Eighth Avenue and B Street, where a portrait of Taylor’s face adorned a large poster.

Three Black women addressed the crowd.

One, who did not give her name, said the decision earlier Wednesday in Kentucky amounted to a “slap on the wrist.”

She said she “loves being Black,” but that it “comes with a lot of obstacles.”

“As a Black woman, I don’t feel protected,” she said before leading a chant of “Black lives matter, Black women matter, Black men matter, Black lives matter.”

Another protester said “justice has not been served” in Taylor’s death and that the Black Lives Matter movement was a marathon that was just getting started.

Earlier in the afternoon, a separate group of about three dozen demonstrators gathered outside a San Diego courthouse.

On social media, the protest’s organizers wrote that the country’s “justice system failed to serve Breonna Taylor, her family and the Black community.” The organizers urged protesters to “show up and let them know that police impunity will not be tolerated.”

Outside the San Diego Superior Court building on Union Street, where sheriff’s deputies had strung up caution tape a few minutes before the demonstration began, the protesters used colorful chalk to write, “No justice, no peace.”

Inside the courthouse, deputies stood near the glass doors while the group of about 35 demonstrators chanted “Black lives matter. Matter is the minimum.”

While no officers will face charges for the 26-year-old Taylor’s death, the grand jury indicted former Louisville Metro Police Department Detective Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment, a low-level felony, for firing shots that went through Taylor’s apartment and into an adjoining unit.

That decision prompted one protester outside the San Diego court to write in chalk, “Why do her neighbors’ peace matter more than Breonna’s life?”

A sign at the march read, “They murdered a woman in her sleep & the only charge was for the bullets that missed.”

Police say two Louisville, Kentucky, police officers have been shot and wounded during protests over a lack of charges in Breonna Taylor’s death

Wednesday’s decision in Kentucky reignited the nationwide social-justice protest movement that erupted in May following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Law enforcement clashed with protesters in Louisville throughout the day Wednesday, while thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of New York, Los Angeles and other cities by the evening.

Though Floyd’s Memorial Day death under the knee of a White police officer was the main driving force behind the months-long protest movement locally and nationwide, protesters also cited Taylor’s death, saying that in both cases they were fed up with police killings of Black people.

A young man gets out of his car to show solidarity as protesters march through downtown San Diego
A young man gets out of his car to show solidarity as protesters march through downtown San Diego on September 23, 2020.
(Ariana Drehsler / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Also boiling under the surface of the summer protests was anger over the February shooting death in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man whose killers, a White father and son, walked free for months until calls for justice and a video of the shooting prompted their arrests in early May.

In late August, as the social-justice protests seemed to be mostly winding down, a White officer shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times in Kenosha, Wis., again igniting anger and fueling a new round of protests, including one in San Diego in which police arrested at least nine people.

San Diego police arrested at least three people Wednesday night outside police headquarters after they’d earlier declared an unlawful assembly, citing “violence and vandalism.” The arrests happened as a line of officers began moving together along E Street toward 14th Street, on the south side of the building and parking lot, yelling for the handful or protesters in that area to move back.

Several officers tackled or roughly wrestled three individuals to the ground. In at least one instance, an officer appeared to throw punches at a person who was on the ground and while several other officers were helping to restrain the person.

Organizers at both of the local protests Wednesday urged participants to demonstrate peacefully.

DeVaughn Walker, a City Heights resident who attended the late-afternoon protest outside the courthouse, said the decision released by the Kentucky grand jury proves that the laws in place allow for police to act with impunity.

"(The system) allows thing to go unseen and untold,” Walker said. “The main thing that I want to push for is the monitoring of police procedures.”

At one point, the group began changing, “Transparency in police procedure.”

A woman, who identified herself as Halo Speaks, played a djembe drum next to Walker and said the community is hurt by the decision.

“Someone was murdered in their home,” she said. “This is a wound for our community ... Louisville is bleeding.”

Updates:

8:40 AM, Sep. 24, 2020: This story was updated with additional information, including details and descriptions of several arrests made by San Diego police.


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