Cameron asked police to remove the protesters from his property, a Louisville Metro Police Department spokesman said in a statement shared with The Washington Post. When 87 demonstrators refused to leave, officers arrested them one-by-one, restraining their hands with zip ties and escorting them to police vehicles to be taken to the jail. Each one was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors, police told The Washington Post.
“Due to their refusal to leave the property and their attempts to influence the decision of the Attorney General with their actions, each person was charged with Intimidating a Participant in a Legal Process,” a police spokesman said. They also face disorderly conduct and trespassing charges, both misdemeanors.
The felony charge applies to people who use “physical force or a threat” to influence “the testimony, vote, decision, or opinion” of a participant in the legal process, like a victim, a witness or a judge. If convicted, the protesters could face a prison sentence of one to five years, according to Kentucky’s sentencing guidelines. The charge was recently leveled against a Kentucky woman who allegedly made threats to intimidate social workers during custody proceedings and a man who allegedly tried to interfere with an emergency protective order after he was arrested for strangling his girlfriend.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky denounced the felony charges filed against the protesters, calling them “overblown, outrageous and inappropriate.”
The demonstrators on Cameron’s lawn, led by Until Freedom, the grass-roots group founded by Sarsour, belted protest refrains from their seats as neighbors peeked out of their windows.
“We want you all to know that you may see us often in your neighborhood,” Sarsour shouted at the onlookers, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
View this post on Instagram
Stand for something or fall for anything! We have heard from everyone on the inside and they are all ok. Over 100 people have been detained including the following people who choose to use their celebrity and platforms to stand on the right side of justice @ybncordae @traeabn @tamikadmallory @lsarsour @mysonnenygeneral @angelopintoesq @porsha4real @yandysmith @kstills . . Donate to the bail fund by clicking the link in the bio of @untilfreedom . Keep applying pressure to @danieljaycameron because #breonnataylor can’t fight for herself. . . All family member contact @bonded4ever for info
A spokeswoman for Cameron’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night, but the attorney general gave a statement to local TV station WAVE.
“The stated goal of today’s protest at my home was to ‘escalate,’” Cameron said in the statement. “That is not acceptable and only serves to further division and tension within our community. Justice is not achieved by trespassing on private property, and it’s not achieved through escalation.”
Until Freedom had advertised Tuesday’s demonstration as a “time to escalate.”
“It has been 116+ days since Breonna Taylor has been murdered by the Louisville Police Department and no one has been held accountable,” the group said on its website. “We must now escalate our actions so that the powers that be know, we will not stop until we get justice for Breonna and her family.”
Police shot Taylor eight times after forcing their way into her Louisville apartment with a battering ram after midnight on March 13. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired one shot at the plainclothes officers, who he said he believed were intruders.
After Black Lives Matter protests spread nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death in late May, the calls for action against the officers involved in Taylor’s death intensified.
As activists and Taylor’s family have argued that local law enforcement officials have moved too slowly to investigate her death, the city has made several changes in response to the backlash. In June, Louisville banned the “no-knock” warrants that allow police to enter homes without announcing their presence and showing a warrant.
More than three months after police shot Taylor, the Louisville Metro Police Department said in a letter it had fired Detective Brett Hankison for violating multiple department policies and showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “blindly” fired 10 bullets into Taylor’s home. Two other officers have been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
But none of the officers involved in Taylor’s death, including Hankison, have been criminally charged.
The investigation reached the attorney general’s office on May 13, after the local prosecutor passed it on because of a conflict of interest. Cameron, who is serving as the special prosecutor investigating Taylor’s death, has said his office is doing an independent probe and reviewing evidence provided by Louisville police’s public integrity unit.
“An investigation of this magnitude, when done correctly, requires time and patience,” he said at a news conference on June 18. Cameron has declined to set deadlines or provide a timeline for his investigation, despite public appeals for him to do so.
“I have a specific obligation to see that anyone accused of a crime is accorded procedural justice and that guilt is decided upon the basis of sufficient evidence, rather than public opinion,” he said.
After Tuesday’s arrests, dozens of people, including Taylor’s mother, sister and boyfriend, gathered outside the jail to protest and wait for people to be released. Around 4 a.m. Wednesday, activists said on social media that the jail had begun releasing some protesters, who emerged to cheers from the crowd.