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Estimated 2,000 gather at Barclays Center to protest Breonna Taylor killing

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Breonna Taylor protestors gathered at the Barclays Center in NYC Photo by Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Brooklyn’s “accidental town square” —the entrance plaza outside Barclays Center— once again was a gathering spot for peaceful protests Wednesday night, this time in reaction to Kentucky prosecutors’ failure to charge any of the Louisville police who fired six bullets into EMT tech Breonna Taylor, killing her on March 13.

The crowd was estimated at around 2,000, the New York Times reported. There were no arrests reported.

The plaza, with its broad expanse and multiple transit connections, was the scene of protests for several nights at the end of May and beginning of June following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis. That was more ad hoc than Wednesday’s protests. Now, it appears the arena plaza has become the first place Brooklynites think to gather to deliver a political message.

This online announcement went viral shortly after the Kentucky Attorney General’s announcement of no charges in Taylor’s death ... and quickly drew a crowd.

Ironically bracketed by quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Angela Davis at either end of the plaza, the crowd swelled to simply show solidarity in numbers, then listen to protest leaders before marching up Atlantic Avenue and over the Manhattan Bridge to join other protests in Manhattan. Many came with homemade signs and/or wearing T-shirts with messages advocating social justice.

The scene was chronicled in tweets and other social media by news organizations and protestors...

Although there was a police presence —both a phalanx of police on foot and a number of police cars nearby, there were no confrontations as there had been back in the spring. Noah Goldberg of the Daily News tweeted the lack of a bigger police presence may have altered the mood.

In early June, Joe Tsai, whose company BSE Global controls the plaza, offered this comment to Kristian Winfield regarding use of the arena plaza for political gatherings.

“Those of us who cannot possibly experience the personal pain and indignity of racism towards black people feel a sense of helplessness as frustration and anxiety reach a boiling point. But it does not mean that we sit idle.

“We have said that we will use the voice and platform of the Nets, Liberty and Barclays Center to facilitate empathy and dialogue. In Brooklyn, the Plaza at Flatbush and Atlantic has become a place for people to assemble and have their voice heard. If it continues to serve as a place where everyone from our community – from residents to businesses to police alike – gather peacefully to listen to each other and find common ground, then it’s good with me.”

In the ensuring months, there have been additional initiatives at the arena. Quotes from first Martin Luther King, then Ruth Bader Ginsburg, replaced advertising on the 3,000 square foot LED oculus screen and an anonymous donor leased the space above the plaza’s subway station entrance to post a quote attributed to activist Angela Davis. The plaza has also been the scene of four pop-up food pantries as well as the announcement that BSE and the city Board of Elections have agreed to have the arena atrium used as a polling place.

Moreover, Tsai and his wife, Clara Wu Tsai, noted noted the role arena protests played in their decision to set up a $50 million Social Justice Fund for Brooklyn. Specifically, in their August 27 statement, Joe Tsai said this...

“Brooklyn has long been a place where people of many different origins can engage in dialogue and find common ground, and we have seen the best example of that at the plaza in front of Barclays Center. Today, we present the framework for how we plan to accomplish the goals of justice and equality.”

Jamal Crawford led Nets players in social media posts with this...

The Tsais’ other New York team, the Liberty, tweeted out its commentary on the prosecutor’s report...

No word yet on whether the plaza will again be the scene of protests Thursday night.