On Saturday, the police of Louisville, Kentucky used tear gas on citizens prior to the 9 p.m. curfew, drawing criticism from many demonstrators. In an interview with the Courier Journal, 47-year-old protester Erica Bowman, who joined thousands in demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, said that it wasn't violent until police "showed up at 7 p.m. with riot gear." Mayor Greg Fischer already defended the use of tear gas, but now the city's police force has given an excuse for its much-criticized tactics.
As the Courier Journal reports, the Louisville Metro Police said that tear gas was used after officers allegedly spotted certain items that sparked concern. Among the list of objects Maj. David Allen claims officers saw were bricks, fireworks, leaf blowers, molotov cocktails, shields, and mason jars.
Allen claimed that some protesters had thrown mason jars "with gasoline in them, urine, a mixture with vomit in it." He also claimed that "gallon jugs of different liquids," and "frozen water bottles" were thrown at police. As for the leaf blowers, he said that these pose a threat because they allow protesters to blow tear gas back towards officers or use "powdered bleach."
It is unclear if any protesters have been arrested in connection with these alleged incidents during the protests in Louisville, but Allen said that his fellow officers monitored "the entire landscape and the behavior in the crowd" to watch "for signs that violence or disturbance will erupt soon." One example he gave is protesters allegedly telling those with children to leave the scene. He also said that officers gave "multiple verbal warnings to disperse over the loudspeakers," and that they had "clearly shown our intent" by putting on gas masks. No photographic or video evidence was provided by police to back up these claims.
In addition to the use of tear gas, police were reportedly spotted destroying milk jugs and cases of water that had been brought by protesters.