Breonna Taylor Decision Sparks Nationwide Protests

Demonstrators march on the Williamsburg Bridge during a protest, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in New York, following a Kentucky grand jury's decision not to indict any police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Demonstrators march on the Williamsburg Bridge during a protest, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in New York, following a Kentucky grand jury's decision not to indict any police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez) Associated Press


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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | California pledges to eliminate new gas-powered cars by 2035 ... Louisiana's voter-registration website goes down on National Voter Registration Day ... Missouri governor tests positive for Covid-19.

Police said they arrested more than 120 people at protests in Louisville on Wednesday night after a grand jury indicted a former detective in connection with Breonna Taylor’s case, but didn’t charge anyone in her death. 

On Thursday, officers charged a 26-year-old man with first-degree assault in the shooting of two police officers at a downtown protest. The officers, Major Aubrey Gregory and officer Robinson Desroches, were injured but will recover, said  Robert Schroeder, the city’s interim police chief.

“For all of us, it is a very tense and emotional time,” Schroeder said Thursday at an online briefing. “I think our officers are in good spirits, given the conditions we’re in right now."

The grand jury’s decision sparked outrage and demonstrations in cities across the country as people took to the streets to protest against the outcome of a months-long investigation into a botched drug raid that ended with police shooting Taylor, 26, multiple times in her apartment.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Wednesday the investigation had concluded that police officers’ use of force was justified because they did not shoot first. Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, shot one of the police officers in the leg, saying later he mistook them for intruders.

Most protests, including marches in Memphis, Detroit and Portland, Maine, were peaceful, but tensions flared at others. Thirteen protesters were arrested in Seattle for resisting arrest, failure to disperse and destruction of property, along with one charge of assaulting an officer after a law enforcement official was “struck in the head with a baseball bat cracking his helmet,” according to a news release

Demonstrations there began peacefully but escalated when a protester threw a firework at the police department and others damaged the precinct’s security cameras and threw glass bottles. Police used pepper spray initially but switched to blast balls and other munitions after demonstrators lit multiple fires, according to the Seattle Times.

In Portland, Oregon, federal and local police used impact munitions to break up a demonstration after protesters threw rocks and set fire to a police precinct before throwing a Molotov cocktail toward officers, the Oregonian reported.

In Denver, a man drove his car through a crowd of protesters, and in Buffalo, a man hit at least one protester with his pickup truck. 

Officials in Louisville said they expected further protests on Thursday and promised that law enforcement presence would be similar to the night before. [Washington Post, CNN; Courier Journal]

GOING GAS-FREE | California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday phasing out the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035, an aggressive move to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the most populous state in the country. The order requires the California Air Resources Board to develop regulations that mandate that all in-state sales of news passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission in 15 years, which Newsom’s office said would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 35%. The order does not prevent Californians from owning gas-powered cars, which could still be bought in other states as well as on the used market. Newsom said the order was urgently necessary as the effects of climate change, including massive wildfires, are already encroaching on the state. [NPR]

GOVERNOR GETS COVID | Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Wednesday that he and his wife Teresa tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The couple moved immediately into isolation, prompting the postponement of a ceremonial bill signing in St. Louis and a debate with Nicole Galloway, the Democrat challenging Parson in the November election. Parson announced the news in a brief video, saying that his wife tested positive Wednesday morning after experiencing mild symptoms and that he was tested as a precaution despite being asymptomatic. A second test confirmed his wife’s diagnosis. Parson said he was awaiting the results of his own follow-up test but “right now, I feel fine. No symptoms of any kind.” He will isolate in the governor’s mansion for 10 days and is expected to keep working, officials said. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

REGISTRATION OUTAGE | Louisiana’s voter registration website was down for more than three hours Tuesday evening, a mishap that Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said was due to human error: routine maintenance that had been scheduled months ahead of time and subsequently overlooked. It was “an unfortunate error for which I take full responsibility,” he said Wednesday morning, noting that registration is ongoing and that roughly 90% of eligible state residents have already signed up. The outage—from about 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tuesday evening—fell on National Voter Registration Day, which New Orleans Rep. Royce Duplessis said on Twitter was “truly shameful and pathetic.” [The Advocate]

SUBSTITUTE SHORTAGE | Public schools in Palm Beach County, Florida, are struggling to find substitute teachers to fill in for the large number of full-time teachers who chose to stay home as students returned to school buildings for the first time since March. More than 940 teachers did not show up for work Monday when students returned to classrooms, and 894 teachers stayed out on Tuesday as well. Officials called 387 substitute teachers into service on Tuesday, when roughly 58,000 students showed up for instruction. Some principals had teachers oversee two classes at once, while others sent non-teacher staff members to monitor classrooms. If a monitor can’t be found, students are asked to wait in overflow classrooms until their next period begins. There’s no easy fix for the problem, educators said, as the same health concerns keeping full-time teachers at home are making substitutes less willing to come in. [Palm Beach Post]

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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