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Police Arrest 11 After Protest In Downtown Atlanta Over Breonna Taylor Decision

Protesters marched to the Georgia Capitol Wednesday night.
Protesters marched to the Georgia Capitol Wednesday night.
Credit Christopher Alston / WABE
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Updated Thursday at 12:01 p.m.

Protests took place in downtown Atlanta Wednesday night in response to a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officers for the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. Police said they arrested 11 people as they dispersed crowds that had gathered.

Hundreds had gathered at Woodruff Park around 7 p.m. and eventually ended up at the Georgia Capitol, shouting chants such as “say her name” and “what do we want? Justice” as they marched.

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“We’re not satisfied with the results, a settlement is not enough, the charges were not enough,” Taron Harris, 22, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution outside the Capitol.

Harris was referring to the $12 million settlement the city of Louisville reached with Taylor family last week to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.

“We’re here to say enough is enough, and we want justice. And that’s all we wanted. We don’t care about money, we don’t care about anything else,” Harris said.

Though the protest was reported to be largely peaceful, things got tense late Wednesday night as the Georgia State Patrol began dispersing the crowd. Police said they deployed chemical agents on the protesters.

Georgia State Patrol Spokesperson Franka Young told The Associated Press the chemical agents were fired after “some unruly protesters” attempted to climb on top of a SWAT vehicle that was stationed in the city.

“They were given orders to get off of the vehicle and when they ignored the orders, the SWAT team was forced to utilize less lethal gas to deter them,” Young said.

Some protesters were also arrested after refusing orders to disperse from roads and to walk on sidewalks, Young said. Young said many protesters had followed police orders.

Hundreds of demonstrators chanted Taylor’s name and marched in cities including New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon. People gathered in downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park, chanting demands for justice as drivers on Michigan Avenue honked their horns. In Wisconsin, peaceful marchers blocked traffic on an interstate and spoke about Taylor on the steps of the state Capitol.

Activists, celebrities and everyday Americans have been calling for charges since Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by white officers who entered her home during a narcotics investigation in March. While the officers had a no-knock warrant, the investigation showed they announced themselves before entering, said state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican and the state’s first Black top prosecutor.

A grand jury returned three charges of wanton endangerment Wednesday against fired Officer Brett Hankison over shooting into a home next to Taylor’s with people inside.

The Taylor case has also made its way into this year’s hotly-contested U.S. Senate special election race in Georgia.

Democratic candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock said the decision not to charge the officers involved in Taylor’s death was “a gross negligence of justice.” Warnock is pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as co-pastor.

“Not charging all the cops responsible for Breonna Taylor’s death is a gross negligence of justice,” Warnock tweeted. “It devalues the life of Breonna Taylor. Black lives matter. We will not have #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor until all the cops involved are held accountable.”

According to a Monmouth University poll published Wednesday, Warnock is in a virtual tie with GOP candidates Rep. Doug Collins and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year.

In July, Loeffler, a co-owner of the WNBA franchise the Atlanta Dream, objected to the league’s move to dedicate the 2020 season to social justice reform. The league highlighted the Black Lives Matter movement and several players wore special uniforms honoring Taylor.

Her criticism of the league’s stance drew backlash, including from the players union, which tweeted: “E-N-O-U-G-H!”

For her part, Loeffler took to social media to express her outrage over two Louisville police officers shot overnight during protests following the grand jury’s decision.

“The violent mob is out of control,” Loeffler tweeted. “We need to get tough and #BackTheBlue before it’s too late.”

NPR reporter Brakkton Booker contributed to this report.