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Louisville officials apologize for blocking downtown roads ahead of expected Breonna Taylor announcement

Louisville police apologized to residents of the city on Tuesday after restricting vehicle traffic in parts of the city ahead of expected protests Tuesday night surrounding an announcement of a grand jury's decision over whether to indict the police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor.

The Associated Press reported that a news release from the department apologized for what it called measures necessary to preserve public safety. Many of the closures are reportedly around Jefferson Square Park, where past protests over Taylor's death have been held.

“We recognize that this is an inconvenience, and will cause difficulty for those that live, work and have business downtown, and we apologize,” said the department. “However, public safety is our number one priority, and it would be irresponsible if we did not take preemptive action to preserve it.”

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Taylor's death and the subsequent debate over whether to charge the officers involved in the no-knock raid that resulted in her shooting death have resulted in protests in the city for months, with many activists demanding the officers face criminal charges.

Taylor, 26, was killed in a no-knock raid by police in March under the presumption that her ex-boyfriend was hiding weapons or drugs at the house, though neither was found in a subsequent search. Her ex-boyfriend currently faces multiple drug-related charges.

The city's police chief declared a state of emergency on Monday ahead of the expected decision, while city officials settled a civil suit with Taylor's family for $12 million last week.

“Our goal with these steps is ensuring space and opportunity for potential protesters to gather and express their First Amendment rights,” Mayor Greg Fischer (D) said Tuesday, according to Reuters. “At the same time, we are preparing for any eventuality to keep everyone safe.” 

Protests over Taylor's death and the city's response come amid other demonstrations around the country over the treatment of Black Americans by law enforcement. Protests erupted in cities around the country in late May following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody after a video revealed that a white officer had knelt on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes before Floyd died.