Breonna Taylor resolution ignites recent outrage throughout US | US & Canada
Washington, DC Hundreds of protesters chanting Breonna Taylor’s name marched the streets of Washington, DC late Wednesday after a grand jury in Kentucky decided not to charge police officers for their deaths – causing renewed anger over police brutality in the US triggered.
Protesters dressed in all black carried posters with the name Taylor, a black paramedic who was shot and killed six times in March after three police officers forced their way into their home with a search warrant in a drug trafficking investigation.
“The Breonna Taylor case was a slap in the face for so many people,” said Michael, a 19-year-old protester from Washington, DC, who called for only his first name to be used.
“Black, brown people, we are all tired of the injustice and disrespect we see,” he told Al Jazeera.
A major protest broke out in Breonna Taylor’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky after the grand jury decided to charge one of three white police officers with wanton harm [Bryan Woolston/Reuters]Similar protests erupted in New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Portland and Chicago after a grand jury in Taylor’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, ruled on Wednesday that none of the police officers involved in the raid on her home were charged with her death would be.
Former officer Brett Hankison was charged with three “willful endangerment” charges for shooting into a neighboring house during the robbery.
“It feels like the walls of Breonna Taylor’s neighbors have more justice than they do,” said Daniella, a 16-year-old high school student from Arlington, Virginia who refused to give her last name. “It’s just amazing.”
Daniella holds a cardboard sign during the protest in Washington, DC [Jihan Abdalla/Al Jazeera]
“People are getting tired”
Along with George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in late May, Taylor’s case became a rally that sparked months of nationwide protests denouncing systemic racism and calling for police reform.
At the height of the protests in June, major cities in all 50 US states saw thousands of people march, sing and hold so-called “die-ins”, fueling a national debate on policing and forcing the nation to face its history of racial injustice .
Protesters have continued to take to the streets every night in some cities, including Portland, Oregon, Louisville, Kentucky and Washington, DC, but the crowd has shrunk since then.
“We’ve been out here for over a hundred days,” said Sean Babalola, a DC protest organizer, at the start of the rally on Wednesday.
“People get tired, they get tired,” said Babalola. “The same energy we had at first may not be there, but we know people can get up right back.”
Despite the lower number, Danielle Belton, editor-in-chief of The Root, a digital magazine focused on black issues, said the movement remains strong and will continue to influence the national debate.
“I was impressed with how lasting the protests were,” said Belton. “In my life protests may last a few days or a few weeks, but the fact that this has been happening since spring is pretty impressive.”
She points to competing priorities for black Americans, such as coronavirus disease, which killed more than 200,000 people in the US and disproportionately affected black and brown communities, and other political struggles.
“We fight COVID, we fight discrimination, we fight police violence, we fight this current government and its racist policies against people of color,” she adds. “People are exhausted.”
A protester leading the chants during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky [AP Photo/John Minchillo]The protesters have called for a fundamental change in the way communities are monitored by converting police funds into programs to support black communities and stop what they say is the over-militarization of the police.
Taylor’s case has also been highlighted by celebrities and athletes, including Oprah Winfrey and tennis star Naomi Osaka, who brought charges against police officers involved in their shootings.
But the grand jury’s decision on Wednesday disappointed many with the judicial system and they weren’t sure if things would change anytime soon.
“I would like to think these protests are making a difference, but it seems they are raising awareness more than anything,” said Meka Jones, 26, a Baltimore data analyst who has participated in the protests all summer.
“I don’t think it makes a difference in police reform, but I think the longer we do it, the more things have to change.”
At a news conference, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the state’s first black prosecutor, said, “My heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor.”
But Cameron said the officers who came to her home with a “no knock warrant” were acting in self-defense after Taylor’s friend Kenneth Walker shot them. No drugs were found in her home. The city has since banned such arrest warrants.
On September 15, the city of Louisville agreed to pay Taylor’s family $ 12 million in a lawsuit.
The move was accompanied by reforms in the Louisville Metro Police Department, including a requirement that commanders approve search warrants before they are presented to a judge.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during a press conference following the grand jury’s decision on Breonna Taylor’s case in Frankfort, Kentucky [AP Photo/Timothy D Easley]
Change will come
Since people had already cast ballots in the early voting for the presidential election, the candidates weighed the latest developments.
In a tweet, President Donald Trump, who is standing for re-election on a law and order platform, did not mention Taylor by name and instead offered his clear support for law enforcement.
In contrast, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his colleague Kamala Harris called for police reform.
“We don’t have to wait for the final verdict of this investigation to do more for Breonna,” Biden said in a statement, adding that the country should first crack down on excessive violence, ban chokeholds and overtake arrest warrants.
“We must never stop speaking Breonna’s name while we work to reform our judicial system, including revising arrest warrants,” Harris said on Twitter.
Tonight I think of Breonna Taylor’s family who are still grieving the loss of a daughter and sister.
We must never stop speaking Breonna’s name while we work to reform our judicial system, including revising arrest warrants.
– Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 24, 2020
Experts say no matter who wins the November elections, authorities have to deal with racial inequality in the US. Otherwise, protests and violence could flare up when the same pattern of unjust police violence against blacks is repeated.
“If we cannot resolve the race issue by having a national dialogue on real racial inequality and a discussion on reparations followed by laws, these are issues that will not go away,” said Ravi Perry. Professor and Chairman of the Political Science Institute at Howard University, a historically black university.
“Racial problems in this country are not black problems, but American problems. And we have to solve them together as Americans, ”said Perry.
#BreonnaTaylor #DCProtests #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/aBwttbdNYm
– Jihan Abdalla (iJihanAbdalla), September 23, 2020
Peaceful demonstrations in Louisville on Wednesday turned violent and two police officers were wounded. A nighttime curfew in the city will remain in effect until Saturday morning. More than 100 protesters were arrested.
In Washington, DC, protesters singing “Justice for Breonna Taylor” marched from outside the Department of Justice to the White House and Black Lives Matter Plaza. The protest lasted into the night when the police in riot gear blocked the streets.
“I won’t stop coming until I see changes. If something changes and I think it will come, I want to be a part of it, ”said Deon, a 26-year-old protester from Detroit, Michigan, who requested that only his first name be used.
“I don’t want to have sat on the sidelines.”