White House Urges Peaceful Protests, Denounces ‘Mob Justice’ in Wake of Louisville Unrest

September 25, 2020 Updated: September 25, 2020

The White House denounced the latest outbreak of protest-related violence in Louisville, Kentucky, urging peaceful demonstrations and cautioning against rhetoric in the media that could fuel calls for “mob justice.”

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany made the remarks in a Sept. 24 press briefing, in which she addressed a range of issues, including clarifying that President Donald Trump “will accept the results of a free and fair election,” and criticizing Democrat actions that she said “sow chaos and discord,” like mulling impeachment as “punishment” for Trump intending to exercise his constitutional authority to nominate a Supreme Court justice.

McEnany was asked about what the president’s message is for the family of Breonna Taylor, who died in March from bullets fired by police when they returned fire while serving a no-knock warrant at her Louisville home.

“Our hearts go out to her. It was a horrible tragedy that happened,” she replied, adding, “and that our hearts also are with the two police officers who were shot last night in the Louisville riots.”

Two Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers were shot Wednesday in downtown Louisville and sustained non-life-threatening injuries amid growing unrest surrounding the handling of the officer-involved shooting case of Taylor.

A grand jury on Wednesday determined that Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove were justified when they opened fire on Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. Taylor’s boyfriend told police he heard knocking but didn’t know who was coming into the home and opened fire in self-defense, striking one of the officers in the leg. Detective Brett Hankison, who fired several shots into Taylor’s apartment from outside, was indicted on three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment.

Riots broke out in multiple U.S. cities following the grand jury decision.

Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, at a press conference following the grand jury announcement called the incident a tragedy and urged calm.

“The decision before my office is not to decide if the loss of Breonna Taylor’s life was a tragedy—the answer to that question is unequivocally yes,” Cameron said.

“If we simply act on outrage, there is no justice—mob justice is not justice,” he later added. “Justice sought by violence is not justice. It just becomes revenge.”

Protests that broke out after the grand jury announcement at one point became violent, with police spokesman, Sgt. Lamont Washington, saying that 46 people were arrested.

McEnany, at the briefing, noted the situation in Louisville, saying there were reports of vandalism and arrests.

“The Trump administration urges calm and reminds those who wish to have their voices heard to do so peacefully. You have a right to peaceful protest, as outlined in the First Amendment,” she said. McEnany then referred to Cameron’s statement urging people not to resort to “mob justice,” before taking aim at a CNN reporter for challenging the attorney general’s words.

“And you contrast his message with that of CNN’s Brianna Keilar, who said, ‘I question the judgment of the Kentucky Attorney General saying that mob justice is not justice.’ We know that this is a very loaded language. That’s an appalling statement from Brianna Keilar at CNN. And what is outrageous about this take is that mob justice is not justice,” McEnany said.

She continued, “This has nothing to do with politics, it has everything to do with the value of human life and the safety and security of our American cities and across the country, we’ve seen our police officers come under fire in the line of duty … Our police officers deserve our respect and the violence that is being committed towards them … is outrageous.”

She called the words of Keilar “outrageous, irresponsible, and we should never hear statements like that followed by hours later two police officers being shot.”

Keilar later responded in a tweet: “The Breonna you should be talking about today is not me, @PressSec.”

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