Stacks of mulch were used to block the entrance to the Meijer store along Charlestown Road in New Albany on Sunday night.

SOUTHERN INDIANA — Several Southern Indiana businesses closed early Sunday night — at least one confirming it was for safety reasons — after days of protests in Louisville and in many other cities in response to recent officer-involved deaths of black residents.

There were protests over the weekend in many cities in response to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, who was shot in her Louisville home by police, and George Floyd, who died last week after a Minneapolis police officer held him on the pavement with his knee pressed on Floyd’s neck until Floyd was unresponsive.

Protests in Louisville that started mid-week resulted in at least eight people being shot, including a man fatally shot by police during a protest Sunday, according to newsgathering partner Wave 3. A curfew was implemented Saturday in Louisville and the National Guard activated. The Second Street Bridge was closed each night because of the protests. There were 40 arrests Saturday in Louisville and 87 Sunday.

In some areas in the U.S., what started as peaceful demonstrations led to property damage, in some cases vandalism and looting. In downtown Louisville, many storefront windows were smashed and buildings spray-painted during the weekend.

Although there have been only two confirmed protests in Southern Indiana over the weekend, both were peaceful, as the News and Tribune previously reported. On Friday, demonstrators marched on the Big Four Bridge and Saturday, about 80 people demonstrated in Jeffersonville over their concern about what they called the lack of police footage after a recent officer-involved shooting.

On April 29, Malcolm Williams, 27, was fatally shot by an Indiana State Police trooper during a traffic stop. The trooper said Williams fired first.

Social media reports by residents say that some local stores — Walmart in Clarksville and New Albany, one Meijer store in New Albany and at least one Kroger location closed early Sunday.

Brett Payton said he was grocery shopping at Meijer on Charlestown Road in New Albany just before 8 p.m. when an announcement was made on the intercom that the store would be closing in minutes.

“I think it was like 7:55 and they just came across and told everybody to bring their purchases to the front and that they were closing at 8,” Payton said. He grabbed a few more things and made his way up front, where more checkout lanes were being opened. “One guy told me they employees didn’t even know they were closing early until they announced it over the intercom.”

Payton said he saw the entrances being barricaded with stacks of garden mulch as he left.

Regina Gilson said she was on her way to Kroger on Grant Line Road in new Albany just after 5 p.m. Sunday. When she pulled up, someone told her the store had closed. She said a staff member then told her that they were closing early for safety reasons.

She said she continued to the Charlestown Road location, which was open at that time.

A spokesperson for Kroger confirmed in an email Monday that they did close one store — Charlestown Road — at 8 p.m. but that it was only for Sunday night and expected to be open for normal business hours moving forward.

“We had reports of protesting in the area and closed at 8 p.m. out of an abundance of caution for our customers and associates,” according to the email. The spokesperson said she was not aware of the Grant Line Road store being closed early. There was no response to an inquiry sent to Walmart Monday about which stores might have closed.

New Albany Police Chief Todd Bailey said the department was not aware of any demonstrations in New Albany, nor any threats to particular businesses. He declined to speak for any retailers but said the New Albany Police Department did not assist in any closing.

Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer said he’s aware of the peaceful protests over the weekend in Jeffersonville. His department is not aware of any protests in Clarksville, nor any threats or problems at businesses. But it’s something the department is keeping an eye on.

“You’ve got different things; what happens in New York is such at a different level than what may be occurring locally,” he said. “But you follow the trend and prepare yourself that that could occur in our area.

“We’ve stepped up patrols, of course we’ve been monitoring the situation throughout and based upon what we’re seeing, we’ll act accordingly,” he said. “At this time really we’re just gauging the threats of activity and based upon what we’re seeing we’ll make a decision on whether anything needs to be adjusted.”

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