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A Tumultuous Weekend Ends With Relative Calm Sunday

Protesters return to First Unitarian Church in Louisville on Sept. 25, 2020.
Protesters return to First Unitarian Church in Louisville on Sept. 25, 2020.

A weekend of dramatic standoffs between protesters and police ended in relative calm Sunday night. The Courier Journal reports police allowed protesters who found refuge after the 9 p.m. curfew at First Unitarian Church of Louisville to return home by 11:45 p.m. without facing arrest.

Since Thursday night, First Unitarian had been a refuge for protesters after the 9 p.m. curfew and the scene of siege-like scenarios. On Thursday and Saturday, police surrounded the grounds and arrested some protesters after they left the premises or failed to make it there before curfew.

Police have arrested more than 200 people since protests reignited Wednesday after a grand jury's decision not to indict any officers for charges directly related to the death of Breonna Taylor. Some of the most common charges for protesters were failure to disperse, unlawful assembly and breaking curfew.

Some have accused the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and the city of unequally enforcing the 9 p.m. curfew, saying they saw patrons at restaurants and bars in St. Matthews and along Bardstown Road after curfew. WFPL asked the mayor's office Sunday for clarification about the curfew order and whether customers could be in bars or on private property after curfew. Jean Porter, a spokesperson for the mayor's office, said her "understanding is that customers are allowed to be on private property of businesses or other residence after 9 p.m. with the owner's permission, but upon departing, they need to travel directly home."

When WFPL asked why several protesters were arrested and charged solely for breaking curfew Saturday upon leaving First Unitarian, Porter replied: "My understanding is they face arrest if they don't go directly home."

On Sunday night, businesses and bars across the city heeded a stricter interpretation of the curfew order. Around 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, bars along Bardstown and Shelbyville roads appeared to be closed.

Police broke up at least one post-curfew gathering at Seidenfaden's Cafe in Germantown without making arrests. Live-streamed video from protester Jason Downey shows police confronting a group who had gathered on the sidewalk outside the darkened bar to protest unequal enforcement of the curfew. After a conversation with police, officers left, and the group dispersed peacefully.

As of 11 p.m., a spokesperson for LMPD said they had made no arrests.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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