LOUISVILLE, Ky. — “Our community is hurting,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in a Thursday morning press conference, less than a day after a Jefferson County grand jury indicted one of the police officers involved in the March shooting of Breonna Taylor and only hours after two Louisville Metro Police Department officers were shot during protests. “The question obviously is, ‘What do we do with this pain?’”
In the immediate aftermath of the grand jury decision, the pain is likely to manifest in more protests and marches. There are also still several ongoing investigations into Taylor’s shooting. And if activists are successful in reforming the police and enacting other changes, there may eventually come healing. Here’s what’s ahead for a city that is still on edge.
For months, many in Louisville have called for charges against the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor. On Wednesday, a grand jury did not answer that call. Only one of the officers involved in the shooting of the 26-year-old was charged. And the three counts of wanton endangerment against Brett Hankison all related to the bullets he fired into apartments near Taylor’s. Neither he nor the other two officers who fired into Taylor’s home — Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly — were charged with any crimes related to her death.
“You failed her. Daniel Cameron, you did not do your job,” one woman, referencing Kentucky's Attorney General, yelled through tears after the announcement was made.
Moments after the announcement, the same people who spent 120 days marching for “Justice for Breonna,” began marching for the failure to deliver it. From Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville, down to the Highlands and back again, demonstrators spent Wednesday afternoon reacting to the decision with anger, frustration, and disbelief.
Shameka Parrish-Wright of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political repression, pledged that the decision is simply “the start clock for the next level of our protests.” In a press release Thursday, which included a list of demands, including the firing of the officers involved in Taylor’s killing and Fischer's resignation, Black Lives Matter Louisville pledged that “today, and for all the days to come, we will continue to demand justice, seek accountability, and fight for real change.”
Interim LMPD Police Chief Robert Schroeder confirmed at a press conference Thursday morning that he is not expecting the protests to end anytime soon. “I think we can anticipate a variety of protest activities through tonight, through the weekend, and continuing on for some time,” he said.
The Attorney General’s investigation into Taylor’s killing may be over, but several other probes of what happened on March 13 and still under way. Among them are an investigation by the LMPD’s Professional Standards Unit, which looks at issues related to department policies. A total of six officers are involved in that investigation, not including Hankison, who was fired by LMPD in June. The Metro Council and Mayor’s office are also carrying out their own investigations of the shooting.
The FBI is also conducting is own investigation into potential civil rights violations related to Taylor’s killing. In a statement this week, a spokesperson for the FBI’s Louisville office told Spectrum News 1: “Our investigation is focusing on all aspects of Breonna Taylor's death. Once our investigation is concluded, we will provide the collected facts to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to determine if federal criminal charges are warranted.”
Not long after the grand jury’s decision was announced in Jefferson Square Park, the epicenter of protests over the past 120 days, Pastor Timothy Findley, Jr. told Spectrum News 1 that he’s “concerned with my community and the amount of trauma we’re subjected to.”
“People are going to become more and more angry. And I think it’s rightfully so. They’re frustration is boiling over,” he said.
Millicent Ashley, the founder of Therapists for Protester Wellness in Louisville, said the time for healing may come in the upcoming days or weeks. “But right now, people have a right to feel angry and to get through those emotions.”
Ashley, who spent part of Thursday speaking with protesters at Jefferson Square Park, said healing will come to Louisville along with practical, real-world changes. “There has to be something to change,” she said. “I’m so happy that the people on the front lines are going to continue to march. And there’s also people who are looking to public policy, to see what things we can change, especially with LMPD.”