A plane circled over Churchill Downs on Saturday and flew with a banner behind it: "Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor," it said.
The 146th Kentucky Derby became a surreal distillation of the country's 2020 crises in hometown Taylor, a 26-year-old black paramedic who was shot dead in her home in March when police broke in to issue a search warrant in the middle of the night.
Inside the race track, the grandstands were mostly empty and the betting windows were closed as fans were banned due to the coronavirus pandemic. Outside, thousands of protesters leaned in the gates and sang Taylor's name. Armored police vehicles in the parking lot replaced the normal crowd of Derby visitors in seersucker and flashy hats.
As the horses circled the track, the protesters yelled and stamped, trying to make enough noise so that no one could ignore them.
Authentic upset Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law wins 146th Kentucky Derby. This year's derby was postponed from May due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The protests were peaceful. The protesters marched around the route 3 kilometers from a city park. They sang "No Justice, No Derby!" and carried signs asking people to say Taylor's name. Inside the gate stood the police in protective clothing with clubs, some on horses and some with armored military vehicles.
The investigation into Taylor's March murder is ongoing and no charges have been filed.
"What are we celebrating?" One of the organizers, Brittany Wiley, told the crowd. "We don't want mint juleps. We want justice. We don't celebrate. We protest. No justice? No derby."
Taylor Sanders, 24, looked up from the crowd of protesters at the plane. As a native of Louisville, the Derby is a special time for him and his family. In February, before the pandemic, he had bought tickets and planned to take part. But even if fans had been let in, it wouldn't have felt right to leave. His grandparents grew up during the civil rights movement. And still here it is, generations later. He said he doesn't want his children to have to march too.
Showtime & # 39; s City On A Hill actress Lauren E. Banks spoke to us about her experience as one of the eighty-seven protesters arrested and held for more than 20 hours after a massive protest demanding justice for Breonna Taylor were held.
"We are here as one," he wants the protest from his hometown to say. “When you see our solidarity, you have to understand that we mean business. We want justice for Breonna Taylor. And not just for them. For all of us."
When the race ended, the protesters quickly set off. There was no violence, although the prospect of a large-scale demonstration on Derby Day in addition to the pandemic had left the city on the edge.
When the first race started on Saturday morning, a group of self-described “patriots” marched through the city center as a counter-protest. Many carried assault rifles and campaign flags for President Donald Trump. They went to a square in the heart of the city center where protesters have been on guard for more than 100 days. There was confrontation between the groups, but no violence.
The big protest on the race track march briefly crossed paths with a Pro Gun Black group called NFAC. Some local protesters disagreed with their tactics. The group marched into Louisville in July and an accidental shot injured three members. About 100 NFAC members marched through on Saturday, but separated from the large protest group and moved on without incident.
In normal years, the derby is a two-week party.
Wanda Martin lives across from Churchill Downs. Usually their lawn is full of people, food, music and dancing. Friends come to visit from all over the county. Martin grew up in horse racing. She worked for trainers, fed and looked after the racehorses.
It is usually their favorite week of the year. She always sells t-shirts with sayings like "Talk Derby to me" and "Go Baby Go!"
The only thing she could come up with this year was “2020 Worst Derby Ever”.
She hung them on a clothesline in front of her lawn.
"It's true," she said. "The worst derby ever."