Kentucky’s only Black female legislator arrested in Breonna Taylor protest

Kentucky’s only Black female legislator arrested in Breonna Taylor protest

Kentucky state Rep. Attica Scott, the state’s only Black female legislator, was among 24 people arrested Thursday by the Louisville Metro Police Department during Breonna Taylor protests, the Democratic lawmaker confirmed to CNN after her release from custody Friday morning.

Scott — who in August had pre-filed legislation to end the use of no-knock warrants in Kentucky, known as “Breonna’s Law” — and her 19-year-old daughter Ashanti were charged with unlawful assembly, failure to disperse, and rioting, police records show.

“I’m very traumatized,” Scott said. She says she’s innocent of all charges and was peacefully seeking authorized sanctuary at a church before the curfew time.

According to police, a group of protestors began “causing damage” in downtown Louisville — including breaking windows of a restaurant and tossing a flare into a library — before the county-wide 9 p.m. curfew kicked in.

“Protestors made their way to the First Unitarian Church at 809 S 4th Street. People gathered on the property of the church, which allowed them to stay there as the curfew had expired,” a police department statement said.

Scott says she was arrested at 8:58 p.m., two minutes before the curfew started, as she and other protesters crossed the street to seek sanctuary at the church.

“How could I have been breaking curfew before curfew even began?” she asked.

The curfew, enacted by Mayor Greg Fischer on Wednesday ahead of the announcement by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron on a grand jury decision in the Taylor case, doesn’t apply to those commuting to houses of worship.

“In Breonna’s name, neither I or my teenage daughter who was arrested with me tried to burn down a library that our people need,” Scott said at a press conference earlier Friday morning. “Those are some ridiculous charges that are levied against us.”

Scott recorded video of herself walking to the First Unitarian Church of Louisville, showing police officers and police vans on street corners as they walked past a library on their way towards the church.

Five minutes into the video, Scott and fellow demonstrators were blocked by a group of police in the street between them and the church.

“Where do you want us to go?” the video shows Scott yelling out to police, some in riot gear. Three minutes later an officer approaches Scott.

“Ma’am is your phone recording?” the officer said.

“Yes, it is,” she replies.

“You might want to turn it off so it doesn’t get broke, OK? Turn it off and put it in your pocket, okay? Alright, go ahead and turn it off and put it in your pocket, I’m trying to be as nice as I can,” the officer says before the video cuts off.

In a press conference Friday afternoon, LMPD Chief Robert Schroeder explained an “unlawful assembly” was declared because members of a protest group had started damaging property.

“Even though this was prior to curfew, it means people must disperse,” he said.

“An extra responsibility” to fight for justice

Scott beat a 34-year incumbent in 2016 to become the first Black woman in nearly 20 years to serve in Kentucky’s legislature. She says she’s a certified anti-racism trainer and has a background in community organizing and civic engagement.

“That’s who I am at core, so it’s natural,” she says about protesting, but the 48-year-old says she had never been arrested before Thursday night.

“I actively tried never to be in that position,” she said. When asked if she regrets getting arrested with her daughter Thursday night, she said, “Absolutely not.”

Thursday wasn’t the first time Scott and Ashanti, a McConnell Scholar at the University of Louisville, protested together.

Scott said the two came out May 29, when outcry over the shooting reached a boiling point. Gunfire erupted during protests in Louisville and audio was released of Taylor’s boyfriend’s call to 911 the night she was killed.

“That’s when I decided to dedicate my everything to seek justice for her, and with Breonna’s mother,” Scott said.

On Wednesday it was announced the grand jury would not indict any LMPD officers for the death of Breonna Taylor. Instead, one officer who allegedly fired shots into her apartment was indicted on first-degree wanton endangerment charges, because some of the shots went into a neighboring apartment.

“I was, I am heartbroken, disappointed but not surprised,” she said when asked about the Jefferson County grand jury’s decision. “It’s just very clear justice was not served for Breonna Taylor, her family and the community.”

“The real heartbreaking thing is my daughter said, ‘Mom, I wanted to be an EMT to help people and see things on the ground level but now I don’t know that’s the case, because being an EMT didn’t save Breonna Taylor.”

Scott plans to continue protesting.

“I’m a mom, I’ve communicated with Tamika Palmer, Breonna’s mother, and I have the responsibility as a woman, a Black woman, a mother, to keep the fight going,” she said.

Scott spoke with CNN before joining Taylor’s family, their attorneys and social activists in a news conference that called for the attorney general to release documents related to his office’s investigation into the case.

“This is just the beginning of our work moving from protest to politics,” she told CNN.