UPDATE (6/5): On what would’ve been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday, there are several efforts underway to demand the three Louisville police officers involved in her death be arrested and charged. Along with a Change.org petition, the #BirthdayForBreonna campaign is encouraging people to send birthday cards demanding justice to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (700 Capital Avenue, Suite 118, Frankfort, KY, 40601-3449) and Mayor Greg Fischer (527 W. Jefferson Street #600, Louisville, KY 40202). Black Lives Matter is also encouraging people to call Fischer’s office at (502) 574 – 2003 or text “ENOUGH” to 55156; the group has ceased an e-mail template to send to Fischer’s office as well.
As protests against police brutality and racial injustice continue across the United States, many demonstrators and activists have begun rallying around the fact that, nearly three months after she was killed in her own home, the three police officers who shot Breonna Taylor have yet to face charges.
There have already been several arrests in the two other high-profile cases that have spurred this latest wave of Black Lives Matter protests: Derek Chauvin and the three other former Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been charged, as have the three men (Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, Jr.) involved in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Meanwhile, the Louisville cops — Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove — who entered Taylor’s home through the use of a “no-knock” warrant and shot her eight times have been put on administrative leave as an investigation continues.
“I’m getting scared that we’re forgetting Breonna Taylor — those cops haven’t even been arrested,” author Ayana Mathis tweeted. “Please remember black women. Please let’s keep fighting for her.”
Taylor, who worked as an emergency medical technician, died March 13th. At around 12:30 that morning, three plainclothes officers arrived at her apartment to execute a search warrant, allegedly believing the location was used as a place for a drug suspect — who’d been arrested earlier that day — to pick up packages. The police claimed they announced their arrival, though Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said the police never identified themselves. So when they burst through the door, Walker, a registered gun owner, fired once at what he believed to be intruders, striking one officer in the thigh. In turn, the police allegedly fired about 20 shots, eight of which struck Taylor.
Taylor’s case has dragged since her death, even beyond the absence of charges for the officers involved. There was only one arrest: Walker, who was booked on attempted murder. The charges against him were dismissed in late May. It was only at that time that the FBI announced a federal probe into the shooting. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer also announced towards the end of May that “no-knock warrants” — which many believe are unconstitutional — would be suspended and that plainclothes officers would be required to wear body cameras.
But as charges for those involved in the deaths of Floyd and Arbery have been handed down, the lack of accountability for the officers involved in Taylor’s death has grown more apparent. Those cries for justice have been loudest at the protests in her hometown of Louisville, though they’re also growing louder in other cities and online.
A Change.org petition started by law student Loralei HoJay, calling for the officers’ arrests, climbed past 3 million signatures today, June 4th, with signees including Solange Knowles, Usher, Janelle Monáe, and Megan Thee Stallion. To mark what would’ve been Taylor’s 27th birthday on June 5th, HoJay will lead a virtual protest encouraging people to contact various public officials, including Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, and voice their support for arrests and charges. Another online campaign, #BirthdayForBreonna, was started by freelance writer Cate Young and encourages people to send Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron a birthday card demanding charges be filed against the three officers.
“I had just been feeling kind of frustrated with how quickly Breonna’s name had fallen out of the news cycle,” Young told Distractify. “I think with the protests that have been happening in George Floyd’s name, it kind of got really easy and convenient to forget her… But having been paying attention to the news for the last seven or eight years, I’ve seen this kind of thing happen over and over again, where we enter these periods of increased attention to police brutality against black people, black women are among that number, and those black women’s names just stop coming up in stories.”