By David Martinez
On July 14, about 100 protesters marched to the home of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron in Louisville and assembled in his front lawn to demand that he arrest the police officers involved in the March killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black healthcare worker murdered while laying in her boyfriend’s bed.
Engaging in civil disobedience, the protesters refused to leave when police arrived, and were one by one taken into custody, with 87 arrested in total. In addition to low-level charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, the state is pursuing the felony charge of, ‘intimidating a participant in a legal process’ for all protesters.
The AG Cameron himself requested the arrests, and is likely behind the outlandish charges, which show a twisted, fascist response to portray a peaceful sit-in as ‘intimidation.’ In a statement, Cameron said “Justice is not achieved by trespassing on private property, and it’s not achieved through escalation.”
This is utterly backwards – escalation is the only reason Cameron is now being forced to pursue charges in the case against Breonna Taylor’s killers and why across the country, the imperialist state is making minor concessions to the movement against police violence.
Pressure is the goal of protesters, but the criminalized category of ‘intimidation’ and the accompanying felony charge is the state’s attempt to intimidate protesters.
The protest was organized by Until Freedom, a reformist-led group that has the involvement of Linda Sarsour, one of the organizers of the ‘Women’s March’ and a high-profile supporter of Bernie Sanders. Protesters called for ‘peaceful’ conduct, locking arms as police encircled them. During a livestream, one legal observer is overheard assuring the protesters they would only face trespassing charges. In addition to activists and community members, actors, musicians, and athletes were among those arrested, including football player Kenny Stills of the Houston Texans.
Despite the organizers’ emphasis on peaceful action, the state’s heightened charges show that even the most benign act of protest can be severely criminalized. As the movement against police killings of Black people continues with determination, the state only reveals its intolerance for dissent and its tendency towards withdrawing the people’s democratic rights.