This week, I’m calling people out for their failure to listen to, understand, and believe the traumatic accounts of Black women. Why did Breonna Taylor not receive proper justice? And why did Harvard students address it better than the administration itself?
On March 13, 2020 local Louisville police officers Brett Hankison, Jon Mattingly, and Myles Cosgrove executed a no-knock warrant search warrant that landed them on Breonna Taylor’s doorstep, where she was asleep in bed with her long-term boyfriend (would-have-been fiancé) Kenneth Walker. Upon forcibly entering the home, Kenneth Walker and the three Louisville police officers engaged in gunfire. Breonna was shot eight times and killed.
Assumptions and misinformation quickly spread since March until now, in an attempt to justify the unjust murder of Breonna Taylor. Let’s unpack that. First, Louisville police officers did not announce themselves before entering Breonna Taylor’s apartment, despite going on record stating that they did so. In fact, all of Breonna’s interviewed neighbors stated that they heard no such announcement. It’s likely that Kenneth didn’t either. Second, Kenneth Walker is not a criminal. The no-knock warrant was for the search of alleged drugs in Breonna Taylor’s ex-boyfriend’s ownership. Those drugs were never found. Third, Kenneth Walker did not willingly fire at known police officers. In fact, Kenneth Walker’s 911 call reveals that he had no idea who was entering his girlfriend’s home. He only knew that they intended to cause harm. Additionally, Kenneth Walker’s firearm was licensed. Louisville authorities knew this. As a result, his inital charges of attempted murder of a police officer were dismissed on May 26th by Judge Olu Stevens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky Courts.
This shrewd attempt to villainize both Breonna and Kenneth speak to bigger issues at hand: systemic racism and the over-reliance on law enforcement. The flawed protocol of the Louisville Metro Police Department has consistently and disproportionately endangered Black civilians. So much so, that Breonna Taylor has a law named after how now. Breonna’s Law bans no-knock warrants for the LMPD. Sadly, Breonna’s Law is not just for Breonna. Breonna was only the tip of the iceberg in the conflict between brutal police forces and oppressed Black Americans. According to the ACLU, the death of Breonna Taylor adds onto a list of failed no-knock warrants that ended in violence, and only further militarized American police.
Although there is so much misinformation being spread about Breonna Taylor’s life and death, one thing remains crystal clear. She deserved to live. Instead, Hankison was charged with first degree wanton endangerment. According to Kentucky statute 508.060, wanton endangerment applies “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, [a person] wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.” In other words, Hankison was charged for endangering Breonna Taylor’s neighbors, but not for killing her. When news hit that Breonna Taylor did not receive proper justice after 190 days of waiting, Kentucky protests spread nationwide. Harvard students got the memo.
Crowds of Harvard students joined Friday’s protests in Nubian Square to fight the lackluster charge on which ex-police officer, Brett Hankison, was indicted.
Here’s how it went down in the Greater Boston Area: Harvard Students caught hold of a Boston flyer, promoting a protest hosted by the Freedom Fighter Coalition to fight the Hankison’s charge of wanton endangerment in Nubian Square. Group chats were formed. Buddy systems were finalized. Posters and signs were designed and left at Widener Library for pick up. The protests began on the night of Friday, September 25th at 6 pm.
Harvard students came together to exercise their democratic right to assembly, even in the midst of such threats to our democracy today. By practicing safe covid-19 counter-measures, Harvard students mobilized in a fashion that was no doubt expected of them. Most students didn’t return to campus until midnight.
When an innocent Black woman is shot eight times in the dark of her own home, we come together on the streets of Boston to protest. When that innocent Black woman risks her life as an EMT during the coronavirus pandemic, we risk our peace and complacency to honor her memory. So, when her killer is let off easy on a charge all too similar to no charge at all, we fight back.
To my fellow Harvard First-Years on campus, here’s your rating:
How to Navigate Absentee/In-Mail Voting
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