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Dozens Arrested In Louisville Protest Calling For Justice For Breonna Taylor

Updated at 4:26 p.m. ET

Louisville, Ky., police have arrested dozens of protesters who staged a sit-in on an overpass.

Tuesday afternoon's protest marked the final day of an event known as "BreonnaCon," which called for justice for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman whom police shot and killed while executing a "no-knock" warrant in her home in March.

The sit-in took place near the city's Cardinal Stadium, NPR member station WFPL in Louisville reported.

Sixty-four protesters were arrested on the overpass on Tuesday, Louisville Metro Police Department spokesperson Dwight Mitchell told NPR. The majority were charged with obstructing a highway and disorderly conduct.

Another seven people were arrested downtown late Tuesday evening in a separate protest action.

WFPL's Ryan Van Velzer reported and captured the tense scene of protesters massing on the bridge, confronting law enforcement officers in riot gear.

"We must love and support each other," the protesters chanted. "We have nothing to lose but our chains! It is our duty to fight for our freedom! It is our duty to win!"

In a briefing before the demonstration Tuesday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer urged a peaceful protest.

"Violence or property destruction is unacceptable and will be addressed immediately," Fischer said, according to Reuters. "Our hope and our expectation is that protests will be peaceful."

The four-day BreonnaCon event was organized by Until Freedom, a national social justice organization that counts among its leaders Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, former co-chairs of the Women's March on Washington.

Some local activists criticized BreonnaCon as inappropriate and exploitative, as WFPL's Eleanor Klibanoff reported. Several events on the schedule used Taylor's name, including a "Bre-B-Q" and a "TaylorMade" women's empowerment session about "Beauty, Money and Justice."

Chanelle Helm, who works with Black Lives Matter Louisville, said Black Lives Matter had stopped working with Until Freedom, in part because she felt the group focused on Taylor's case to the exclusion of other issues important to Black people in Louisville.

"The people in the streets are the folks that got this moving," Helm told WFPL. "It isn't the people who have access to the boards, or the multimillion-dollar nonprofits. It isn't even the grassroots organizers. It's the people who are seeking justice, not only for Breonna, but for themselves ... and that's who we should be moving with and assisting."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.