Social Justice

7 Ways To Keep Fighting For Breonna Taylor

The Grand Jury only indicted one out of three officers.

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On Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, a Jefferson County grand jury decided to indict one out of the Louisville, Kentucky police officers for the murder of Breonna Taylor. Detective Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of "wanton endangerment" in the first degree by a grand jury, a charge significantly less severe than manslaughter. The two other officers involved in the case, Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove were not indicted. This decision comes more than half-a-year after the 26-year-old was killed in her home by the Louisville police. Demands for justice for Breonna Taylor echoed across the U.S. after no formal arrests or charges were made in the immediate weeks following her death. Now, Louisville and the country as a whole wait in anticipation for what will happen after the grand jury decision.

On Mar. 13, 2020, 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 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 along with the indictment of Detective Hankison are an important step in combating police brutality and systemic racism, they are a small step in the fight for justice. Here is how to continue to demanding justice for Breonna Taylor.

1

Encourage Police Chief Robert Schroeder To Fire & Revoke The Pensions Of The Officers Involved

Though Brett Hankison was fired, the other officers involved — John Mattingly, Joshua Jaynes, and Myles Cosgrove — are currently on paid leave. Additionally, a recently leaked email from Mattingly addressed around 1000 Louisville-area officers and, in part, read “Regardless of the outcome....we did the legal, moral, and ethical thing that night.” 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.

2

Donate To Her Family's GoFundMe & The Louisville Community Bail Fund

On Sept. 22, Breonna's family received a $12 million settlement from city officials. However, this settlement required no admission of wrong-doing and, as evidenced by the recent grand jury decision, did not lead to convictions for all officers involved.This GoFundMe will send money directly to Breonna's family as they continue working hard to seek justice for Breonna and other victims of police brutality, and the Louisville Community Bail Fund helps support the people who have been on the front lines of protests for Taylor in Louisville.

3

Flood Social Media

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.

4

Call The Offices

While we wait for the White House to respond to the "Justice For Breonna" petition, you can contact local Louisville officials to demand justice. 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.

5

Continue To Show Up

Stand With Bre, an initiative started by the Grassroots Law Project, is continuing to post updates on how to stay vigilient in demanding action against systemic racism. Whether you attend a local protest or demand accountability from city officials, staying vocal online and in your community is one immediate step in the fight toward equality.

6

Donate To Bail Funds Across The Country

As protests against systemic racism continue, supporting bail funds is becoming even more crucial. To make your money go further, consider splitting your donation equally across the 70+ bail funds across the U.S. using Act Blue. The list includes organizations like the Milwaukee Freedom Fund, where protests for Jacob Blake have taken place since August.

7

Support Efforts To Defund The Police

While Wednesday's grand jury decision in the murder of Breonna Taylor is being criticized for its lack of severity, it is unfortunately unsurprising given the lack of accountability officers face when it comes to police misconduct. The organization 8 To Abolition provides an extensive primer on what defunding the police really means. You can also sign the petition to defund the police from Black Lives Matter.

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