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Local activists, Breonna Taylor’s family mark one year of Louisville protests

A “social justice fair” Friday commemorated the first night of protests and showcased ongoing police reform efforts
Updated: May. 29, 2021 at 12:37 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Jefferson Square Park was filled with local activists Friday as Louisville marked one year since the social justice protests in Breonna Taylor’s name began.

Jefferson Square Park was filled with local activists Friday as Louisville marked one full year...
Jefferson Square Park was filled with local activists Friday as Louisville marked one full year since Breonna Taylor protests began.

The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression organized a “social justice” fair to commemorate the first night of protests and also showcase the ongoing work of those committed to police reform.

“As we move forward, it is important that we stay vigilant, connected, and focused on a path forward that is intersectional, inclusive, and uniting. We are asking all social justice groups, local businesses, with supporters from all around and afar to join us on May 28th & May 29th at Injustice Square also known as #BreeWayy and Jefferson Square Park,” a Facebook event post read.

Leaders with Code Louisville, St. John Center for Homeless Men, the 490 Project, the Breonna Taylor Foundation, Feed Louisville, and other organizations pitched tents at Jefferson Square Park as part of the event. The day began with prayers from local faith leaders and remarks from community activists about the early days of Louisville’s protest movement.

“I think it was just a culmination of like, bubbling over with we can’t take this no more, enough is enough,” Kentucky Alliance co-chair Shameka Parrish-Wright said. “We didn’t know this is where we would be a year later, we just knew we had to keep fighting or there wouldn’t be any changes.”

Louisville protesters first took to the streets Thursday, May 28, 2020, to demand justice for Breonna Taylor. That night, there were several arrests, and seven people were shot. The protest kicked off weeks, then months of additional marches, rallies, and demonstrations which saw hundreds of arrests and some pockets of violence and rioting.

Friday, Breonna Taylor’s aunt Bianca Austin expressed gratitude to protesters and called for continued action.

“My niece Breonna Taylor didn’t die for nothing and we ain’t out here in these streets for nothing,” she said. “We can’t change Louisville by y’all sitting at home on the couch, be the change that y’all want us to be by supporting us.”

Throughout the year, protesters celebrated reforms such as Breonna’s Law but also experienced multiple clashes with police and clearings of Jefferson Square Park.

On Friday, protesters also remembered those they lost during the year, like Travis Nagdy, a protest leader, Tyler Gerth, a photographer who documented protests, and David “YaYa” McAtee, a restaurant owner who was shot and killed by National Guard troops just after midnight May 31, the fourth night of protests, after he fired a shot into the air outside his business when police were in the area to enforce a curfew.

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