7 Ways To Keep Fighting For Breonna Taylor08/01/2020
Her killers still haven’t been arrested.
On March 13, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was killed in her home by the Louisville police. Three plain-clothed police officers used a battering ram to enter Taylor’s apartment unannounced, with a "no-knock" warrant, looking for a suspected drug dealer in an ongoing narcotics investigation, according to CNN.
Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, 27, were sleeping when the police entered. Walker thought someone was breaking into their home and shot one bullet out of self-defense, according to the Courier Journal. The police shot at least 22 rounds, hitting and killing Taylor with at least eight. The shots also flew into a neighbor’s house, where a pregnant mother and her 5-year-old were asleep.
Upon further investigation, the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) discovered that the suspected drug dealer didn’t live at Taylor’s apartment and was already in police custody at the time of Taylor’s death.
Taylor’s death is one of many unjust killings of Black people by the police, among them, more recently, George Floyd, 46, and Tony McDade, 38.
Taylor was an essential health care worker, working at the front lines of local hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. She was an award-winning emergency medical technician, and she hoped to one day become a nurse. Taylor’s birthday is June 5, and this year, she would have turned 27.
"Too often, the Black women who are victims of police brutality take a backseat to the men who suffer the same," Cate Young, a freelance writer, and creator the #BirthdayForBreonna campaign tells Bustle. "It stung that her death was not seen as critical enough for people to take to the streets, and coverage of the protests has not named her."
The #BirthdayForBreonna campaign included a series of tangible actions and virtual protests to honor Breonna Taylor, and amplify the stories of Black women killed by police. Young, with the help of activists Victoria Wilson, Jane Shin, Jill Cartwright, Zosha Millman, and artists Ariel Sinha and Ayla Sydney using Taylor’s birthday as an opportunity to inspire people to honor Taylor and fight for the justice she deserves.
In the four months after Taylor’s death, both local and national changes inspired by Taylor. As of June 11, an ordinance called "Breonna’s Law," banning no-knock search warrants and mandating that officers wear body cameras during searches was unanimously passed in Louisville, Kentucky, according to CNN. That same day, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul introduced the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act, a bill prohibiting no-knock warrants entirely in the U.S.
Following the death of David McAtee, a Black restaurant owner who was shot and killed by the Kentucky National Guard during a June 1 protest in Louisville honoring the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Steve Conrad, the Louisville police chief, was fired. On June 23, the city’s new police chief, Robert Schroeder, fired Brett Hankison, an officer-involved with Taylor’s unlawful death.
While these efforts are an important step in combating police brutality and systemic racism, no formal arrests or charges have been made. Here is how to continue to fight for justice for Breonna Taylor.
On May 21, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced an investigation into Taylor’s death. In a conference call on July 1, Special Agent Robert Brown, head of the Louisville’s FBI field office, called this investigation their "top priority." Despite petitions calling for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Louisville Police Department, he opted to make all arrest and conviction decisions himself. You can contact his office by phone and email, or send a form through his site demanding that he arrest, charge, and convict John Mattingly, Brett Hankison, Joshua Jaynes, and Myles Cosgrove, the officers involved with Taylor’s death.
Though Brett Hankison was fired, the other officers involved — John Mattingly, Joshua Jaynes, and Myles Cosgrove — are currently on paid leave. You can call the Louisville police department or email the new police chief Robert Schroeder to encourage him to fire and suspend pensions of the other officers involved. You can also contact the newly formed Public Integrity Unit of the LMPD.
The official petition seeking justice for Breonna Taylor now has over 10 million signatures. However, the government petition on the White House forum still needs 100,000 signatures by Aug. 26, to get a response from the White house. This new petition calls to fire, arrest, and convict John Mattingly, Brett Hankison, Joshua Jaynes, and Myles Cosgrove, the officers involved in Taylor’s death. It also requires Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to conduct a fair and transparent investigation of the Louisville Police Department, and for Senator Rand Paul’s Justice for Breonna Taylor Act bill to be passed.
A group called Fight For Breonna is working with her family to draft another petition calling for more policy and transparency regarding law enforcement misconduct and forming a local, independent, civilian community police accountability council.
This GoFundMe will send money directly to Breonna’s family, who have been working hard to seek justice for Breonna, and the Louisville Community Bail Fund helps support the people who have been on the front lines of protests for Taylor in Louisville.
Keeping Breonna Taylor’s name trending across social media platforms is another way to prompt the administration to take action. Use the hashtags #BreonnaTaylor, #SayHerName, #JusticeForBre, #StandWithBre. On Twitter, you can tag @LMPD, @LouisvilleMayor, @Kyoag, and @GovAndyBeshear, and on Instagram, @LMPD.ky, @MayorGregFischer, @DanielJayCameron and @GovAndyBeshear. Young encourages people to make their own art, poetry, music, or other meaningful creative works to show that Taylor will not be forgotten. This initiative is for all social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
If you aren’t sharing original artwork, there are images you can download for free. To credit the artists, tag @arielsinhaha and @nemesomi. You can also share the #BirthdayForBreonna page, and encourage your friends and family to be involved.
Call the offices of Governor Beshear, District Attorney Wine, Attorney General Cameron, Senator Paul, as well as Representative John Yarmuth, and the Kentucky Senators General Hotline. All their numbers are listed here, as well as a script of what you can say.
Taylor’s attorneys argue that the original drug search that led to Taylor’s death was likely tied to real estate development in the area. “The origin of Breonna’s home being raided by police starts with a political need to clear out a street for a large real estate development projects," their lawsuit reads. While Mayor Greg Fischer continues to deny these allegations, many activists and city council members are demanding that all documents related to Taylor’s death and the real estate development plans for the city be released, as well as a further investigation into the Mayor’s decisions regarding the gentrification of Lousiville. You can call the Mayor’s office and demand that any real estate paperwork be released, and support anti-gentrification efforts in Louisville.
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