Kentucky lawmaker arrested during protests in Taylor case

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State Rep. Attica Scott speaks during a news conference, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. Breonna Taylor’s family attorney Ben Crump is calling for the Kentucky attorney general to release the transcripts from the grand jury that decided not to charge any of the officers involved in the Black woman’s death. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky lawmaker who spent a night in jail after her arrest during protests demanding justice for Breonna Taylor said Friday that she’ll redouble her push for criminal justice reforms.

State Rep. Attica Scott was arrested and charged Thursday evening with first-degree rioting, a felony, and two misdemeanor counts: unlawful assembly and failure to disperse. The Black lawmaker on Friday called the charges “ludicrous” and said those arrested were “traumatized” by Louisville police.

“Right now I’m very disgusted and angry that LMPD (Louisville Metro Police Department) would levy these false charges against me … and other folks,” Scott told reporters.

While protesting again Friday night, Scott told a reporter her arrest was terrifying.

She was live-streaming at the time, and saying: “They’re going to kill us, they want to kill us,” and she believed that.

They marched through city streets peacefully Friday night, and as they neared an intersection it was jammed with police cars. Suddenly officers in riot gear appeared, holding batons, and they fired flash bangs at the crowd. Few knew what was happening or what caused the police to suddenly intervene.

The terror of the night before came surging back for Scott. Officers were lined up on either side of the block and it looked like demonstrators had nowhere to go. In the end, the police let them pass peacefully and the crowd headed back to the square.

Last month, the Louisville Democrat unveiled legislation she dubbed “Breonna’s Law” that would ban no-knock search warrants in Kentucky and impose new requirements on police practices.

Scott said Friday she’s more determined now to push it through when Kentucky’s Republican-controlled legislature reconvenes.

“Justice was not served for Breonna or her family or her community this week, so we have to make sure that we are turning our protests into policy,” she said.

Scott was with protesters seething that grand jury hearings into Taylor’s death led to no charges against police officers who killed the Black woman during a March drug raid at her apartment. A single officer was charged for firing into a neighboring apartment, but no drugs were found in Taylor’s residence.

Scott said she and her daughter joined protesters gathered downtown Thursday evening, following them in a car as they started marching.

They were headed to a church that offered refuge to protesters, she said, but police blocked the route they were going to take so she said they parked and walked. As they walked up the ramp of a library near the church, police converged to make arrests before a curfew took effect, Scott said.

“LMPD swarmed us,” Scott said. “They started yelling, ‘Circle ‘em, circle ‘em.’ They wouldn’t let us leave to go back to our vehicle. And they wouldn’t let us literally cross the street to get to the church and sanctuary.”

While making the arrests, one officer accidentally discharged his pepper ball gun, and everyone dropped to the ground, she said.

Scott said she sat on a sidewalk for about an hour before being taken to jail. She said she ended up in a holding cell for hours.

“We were traumatized,” she said. “We were shocked. It was unbelievable.”

Scott was released Friday morning. Her arraignment is set for Oct. 6, the Courier Journal reported.

Police said Scott was in a group that was ordered to disperse but failed to do so. Members of the group damaged multiple buildings, including setting fire to a library, police said.

Scott told reporters Friday that there’s “no way that I would have been involved in trying to damage the library.” She said that as a lawmaker she champions funding for libraries.

Kentucky’s top-ranking House Democrat, Rep. Joni Jenkins, said in a statement that she’s known Scott for more than 20 years and that her colleague is “incapable of any kind of violent act.”

“What I do know,” Jenkins said, “is that she is doing everything in her power to help Louisville heal during these difficult times.”

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Associated Press reporters Angie Wang and Claire Galofaro contributed to this story.

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