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Rep. Attica Scott ‘Offended, Disgusted’ By Felony Rioting Charges

J. Tyler Franklin

State Rep. Attica Scott was released from jail Friday morning after being arrested by Louisville police on felony rioting charges Thursday night.

In an arrest citation, police alleged that Scott was part of a large group that “caused extensive damage at multiple locations including setting fire to the Louisville Public Library.”

The same boilerplate language was used in citations for several other people arrested on Thursday night.

Scott recorded the event in a video on Instagram, which begins nearly eight minutes before her arrest. The video shows Scott and a group of people walking to a Unitarian church that was providing shelter for protesters, but at several points police block their way.

“What they’re doing, which is ridiculous, is they’re blocking us from getting sanctuary at a church,” Scott said during the video. “You would think that since it’s curfew, they would want us to get inside. So we’re trying to get inside.”

As the group walks by Louisville Public Library, police in riot gear can be seen running toward the group, shouting and surrounding them.

“Where do you want us to go?” Scott says repeatedly as police surround the group.

“Get down now!” a police officer shouts multiple times.

“They want to kill us,” Scott repeats several times.

The video cuts off as an officer asks Scott if her phone is recording and tells her to turn it off.

“I’m trying to be as nice as I can,” the officer says.

Along with 14 other people, Scott and her teenage daughter were charged with first degree rioting — a class D felony — and two misdemeanor charges for failure to disperse and unlawful assembly.

No calls for dispersal from police can be heard during the video, nor is there any evidence that Scott or a member of the group she was with set a fire at the Louisville Public Library.

Scott says she was arrested at 8:58 p.m., her citation lists the time of her arrest as 9 p.m. — the time Louisville’s curfew begins.

According to LMPD Thursday night, protesters damaged property near the library — tagging public transit buses and attempting “to start a fire” at the library. A photo provided by LMPD showed a window broken at the library and a road flare on the floor inside.

In an interview Friday morning, Scott called the charges “ridiculous.”

“I have no idea where that came from and I’m quite frankly offended and disgusted that they would try to accuse me of setting fire to the library when I’m one of its biggest champions,” Scott said. “And this is the library in my district, District 41. That makes absolutely no sense.”

Scott is the only Black woman in the Kentucky legislature and is the sponsor of Breonna’s Law For Kentucky, a bill that seeks to ban no-knock warrants, create penalties for officers who don’t turn on their body cameras and require drug testing of officers involved in shootings. She also previously served on Louisville Metro Council.

Scott said her arrest is another instance of Louisville police responding poorly during the protests.

“They’ve used these militarized assault weapons against us, weapons of chemical warfare. And this week has been no different,” Scott said. “It’s as if they want war, they want battle with the people they are paid to protect and serve.”

The library’s union, AFSCME Local 3425, defended Scott and protesters in a Facebook post on Friday morning.

“Representative Scott has consistently been a vocal supporter of libraries and library workers and has been an ally specifically to our union through many battles,” AFSCME President Ashley Nichole Sims and Vice President Val Pfister wrote.

“We have seen no proof that the flare thrown into the library has done any major damage, nor that Representative Scott had anything to do with it, and find these accusations inconsistent with her character and the constant support we have received from her.”

County Attorney Mike O’Connell did not respond to requests for comment on the case. Scott is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 6.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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