Louisville church opens as sanctuary for rioters, reported threats for ‘white motherf—rs’ to leave emerge

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More than a dozen protesters, including a Democratic Kentucky lawmaker, were arrested as they attempted to gather at a church offering sanctuary in downtown Louisville.

A member of the First Unitarian Church told livestreamers Thursday night that “houses of worship are exempt from the curfew,” but as crowds headed to the site after the curfew went into effect at 9 p.m., Louisville Metro Police officers declared an unlawful assembly and arrested 17 people, including State Rep. Attica Scott. Video from the scene also showed rioters threatening white people with assault and kicking the press out from the church “sanctuary” grounds.

“So the church has opened this up as a sanctuary” — a place to get refreshments and legal aid if they need,” Brother Tim Duncan, a volunteer with the church explained amid the second night of protests after a Kentucky grand jury’s decision on the case of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police gunfire in March.

“It is a way of showing that we are with you. We are a part with you, and we are with the struggle and a struggle that has gone on for centuries, that this God is one who is always on the side of the oppressed,” he later told Courier Journal reporters, standing under a banner at the church reading “Black Lives Matter.”

About 100 protesters reportedly marched up to the Louisville church when the curfew began, and many made their way inside before the building and grounds were eventually encircled by police.

Livestreamer Brendan Gutenschwager tweeted video reportedly from the scene, explaining that “White people have just been threatened with assault and kicked out of the church sanctuary grounds.”

“Almost all press were demanded to leave as well,” he added.


Protesters who made their way from a downtown park to the church reportedly caused damage along the way, including breaking the window of the Louisville Free Public Library near the church and tossing a flare inside.

“Officers remained at 4th and York in order to secure the area so maintenance could address the library windows that were broken and an arson investigation begun,” Sgt. Lamont Washington, LMPD spokesman said in a statement.

Officers declared an unlawful assembly due to damages along the march route and eventually encircled the First Unitarian Church, making several arrests. Rep. Scott was reportedly attempting to join the crowd gathered at the church when she was arrested, along with her daughter Ashanti and Shameka Parrrish-Wright, the co-chair of the Kentucky Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, according to WFPL.

Scott, the only black woman in the state legislature and the sponsor of a bill called “Breonna’s Law” which seeks to end no-knock warrants in the state, was charged with unlawful assembly and first-degree rioting, which is a Class D felony.

“People went to the church as a safe place, others failed to disperse,” LMPD spokesperson Jessie Halladay said, according to WFPL. “Once we clear out people will be allowed to leave and go home.”

Rumors that police were going to storm the church were dismissed by officials who clarified that protesters on church grounds would be allowed to go home without facing arrest.

“Contrary to rumors on social media, the LMPD, at no time, was waiting for ‘a decision from legal about whether or not they can storm the property,'” LMPD spokesman Lamont Washington said. “No arrests were made for being on church property. No National Guard was deployed.”

Shortly after 11 p.m, following a stand-off of sorts, the demonstrators were allowed to leave but told they needed to remain on the sidewalks and head straight to their cars or homes.


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Frieda Powers


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