LOUISVILLE, United States: Demonstrators demanded justice and police reforms on Saturday as they marched on the one-year anniversary of the death of Breonna Taylor, a young Black woman mistakenly shot and killed by officers during a raid of her apartment. “We got two different Americas. We got one for Black Americans and one for white Americans,” Benjamin Crump, an attorney representing Taylor’s family, told the crowd of hundreds in Louisville, Kentucky.
“We got to get justice for all our people in America.” The deaths of Taylor and George Floyd, a Black man who died under the knee of a policeman in Minneapolis, became a focus of a wave of protests last year against police abuses and racism in the United States. On Saturday, Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer led hundreds marching behind a large purple banner with an illustration of Taylor’s face, chanting “No justice, no peace.”
“It’s been a year and justice has not been served,” Camille Bascus, a 50-year-old African American, told AFP, tears in her eyes. She said she had come to Louisville from Atlanta, more than 400 miles (650 kilometers) away, “to represent the people without voices, because they no longer have a heartbeat. We have a voice and our lives matter.”
Twelve months after the killing-in which police shot Taylor while looking for a former friend of hers-only one of three police officers has been charged, and only for endangering Taylor’s neighbors by firing wildly. The failure to press homicide charges-a decision denounced as “outrageous” by Taylor’s family-sparked sporadic violence in Louisville last September.
President Joe Biden on Saturday declared his support for reforms. “Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy, a blow to her family, her community, and America,” he tweeted. “As we continue to mourn her, we must press ahead to pass meaningful police reform in Congress. I remain committed to signing a landmark reform bill into law.”
Taylor’s family and friends are now looking to the results of a federal probe, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation saying Saturday its work was moving forward. “Even though the Covid pandemic presented several unexpected obstacles, FBI Louisville has made significant progress in the investigation,” the field office in that city said in a statement. The bureau remained “steadfast in its commitment to bringing this investigation to its appropriate conclusion,” the statement said.
‘We need justice’
Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were sleeping in her apartment around midnight on March 13, 2020, when they heard noise at the door. Walker, believing it was a break-in, fired his gun. Police, who had obtained a controversial no-knock warrant to make a drug arrest, then fired some 30 shots back, mortally wounding Taylor. While Walker said police battered down the door unannounced, the officers insisted they had identified themselves.
Two of the officers involved were fired in December. Linda Sarsour, co-founder of the Until Freedom social justice organization, said the officers need to be held accountable. “Right now, the only thing that has happened is that the police officers have been fired from the police department, that is a human resources issue. We need justice,” she said.
Taylor’s death at first escaped widespread attention, but it suddenly became a focus for Black Lives Matter protesters following Floyd’s death on on May 25. To settle a civil suit, Louisville authorities agreed to pay the Taylor family $12 million and initiate police reforms. For Bascus, that is not enough. It “doesn’t bring Breonna Taylor back.” – AFP