At least seven people were shot in Louisville, Kentucky, as hundreds of protesters turned out to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman fatally shot by police in her home in March.
Louisville Metro Police confirmed in a statement early on Friday that there were at least seven shooting victims, one of whom was in a critical condition. The statement also said there were “some arrests”.
A police spokesman told the Associated Press that “no officers discharged their service weapons,” adding all seven victims were civilians.
Around 500 to 600 demonstrators marched through the Kentucky city's streets on Thursday night, the Courier Journal reported. The protests stretched for more than six hours, ending in the early hours of Friday as rain poured down.
“Understandably, emotions are high,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted just before midnight, sharing a Facebook post asking for peace that he said was written on behalf of Taylor’s mother. “As Breonna’s mother says let’s be peaceful as we work toward truth and justice.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical tech, was shot eight times on March 13 after Louisville drugs detectives knocked down the front door. No illegal substances were found in the home.
Attention on Taylor’s death has intensified after her family sued the police department earlier this month. The case has attracted national headlines in the US alongside the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in a Georgia neighbourhood in February.
Thursday’s demonstration came as protesters across the country — from Los Angeles to Memphis, Tennessee, New York and Minneapolis itself — have demonstrated against the death of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis police custody.
Around 12.20am, Mr Fischer tweeted a video that he said was a message from Taylor’s family.
“Louisville, thank you so much for saying Breonna’s name tonight. We are not going to stop until we get justice,” a woman says in the video. “But we should stop tonight before people get hurt. Please go home, be safe and be ready to keep fighting.”
Meanwhile, a live video from central Louisville at around 12.30am showed some protesters behind makeshift wooden barricades, which appeared to be made out of picnic tables spray-painted with the words: “You can’t kill us all.” A small fire inside a rubbish bin was visible in the middle of the street.
Police in body armour and face shields held batons and lined up around Louisville City Hall. They appeared to fire rubber bullets and deploy teargas canisters, fogging the air and inducing coughs among the remaining members of the crowd. Some protesters were shown filming police with their mobile phones.
People in Kentucky are still subject to social-distancing measures driven by the coronavirus pandemic, and many protesters wore masks.
Chants early on Friday included “No justice, no peace” and “Whose streets? Our streets”.