Breonna Taylor’s Life Mattered: What You Can Do to Help Bring Justice
Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. When we heard of her death this past March, it was another pang of heartache as another Black person was killed by the police. Not only did the officers invade her home at 1 am while she was sleeping with an arrest warrant for someone else, who did not live at her home, and who was already in custody, but they did not announce themselves causing her boyfriend to fire off a warning shot, thinking the intruders were burglars. The police shot Breonna eight times, killing her on the scene. She was unarmed in her own home. She was 26-years-old, a frontline working for COVID-19, serving as an EMT. She was a daughter, a friend, a girlfriend, and someone putting her own life on the frontline, as COVID-19 disproportionally affects Black communities. In her obituary, she was described as “full of life” and “a best friend to so many.”
Hearing of Breonna, so close to Ahmaud Arbery’s death, the gentleman who was shot by men who followed him while jogging in a residential area while one man filmed the murder, was heartbreaking. Breonna’s death had no video to prove the police used unjustified violence which led to her death and her boyfriend was immediately taken into custody for firing a warning shot. None of the officers were arrested or charged. They went home and back to work as though nothing had happened. These stories, back to back and one after the other, are daunting. The media did pick up on Ahmaud’s death as the video went viral, but we didn’t see the same traction on social media with Breonna. Black women tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to empathy. Malcolm X stated, “The most neglected person in America is the Black woman,” and we see this play out time and time again.
With the senseless killing of George Floyd, the man who was held down by 4 officers, including one with a knee on his neck, face down and handcuffed which resulted in him dying on the scene, our nation reached its tipping point. Thanks to the massive protests against police brutality seen around the globe, activists and public outrage saw Breonna’s case get reopened on May 21st, by the FBI’s Louisville office. Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit two months after she was killed. They are claiming charges of battery, wrongful death, excessive force, negligence, and gross negligence. As it stands now, there has been little movement in Breonna’s case with the three officers involved in her shooting still on administrative leave and they have not been charged with any crimes.
What is so traumatizing about this, is not only the actions of police shooting to kill Black people but the fact that Breonna could have been any of us. We saw the same outcome as Sandra Bland and Nia Wilson. Luckily Nia Wilson’s murderer who was not a police officer was charged and sentenced. With incidents involving the police causing harm or death, it is very hard to bring a charge and also difficult to convict them because of their protections. Sandra was pulled over for a traffic violation and ended up dead in her cell. Activists are demanding her case be reopened just as Breonna’s case has.
We asked Breonna’s close family friend Cheri Allen, what she wanted us to know about Breonna. She stated, “Breonna was fun-loving and caring. She enjoyed life. She always had a smile, always had positive things to say to everyone. She was encouraging. Breonna never had an attitude. She was never disgruntled. I can’t say I have ever seen her have a disagreement with anyone. She enjoyed life.” When asked what she wanted to see happen for Breonna, she stated, “I would like to see the officers who committed her murder fired and revoked of all privileges, charged, and arrested.”
Breonna, we honor you, and your life will not be forgotten. We must all do our part in putting an end to police brutality, racism, microaggressions, racial profiling, and more. How do we do that? If you are white and privileged, it’s by having those uncomfortable conversations with friends, family, and coworkers on race and shutting down bad behavior. What everyone can do together from all backgrounds, is to donate to organizations that support #BlackLivesMatter, vote, sign petitions that will bring change, demand action from your local politicians, schools, and universities to address racial prejudice, and educate yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you, use Google, and do your research and share. Whether it’s in person, verbally, or on social media, it doesn’t matter. Just share and take action. To lend your voice, visit JusticeForBreonna.org.
Update: Louisville Metro Police is terminating Officer Brett Hankison, one of three LMPD officers to fire weapons on March 13 at Breonna Taylor’s apartment, which resulted in her death.