The year-long anniversary of the police murder of Breonna Taylor was Saturday, and activists, lawmakers and Taylor’s family spent it renewing calls for criminal justice reform.
In Louisville, Kentucky, members of Taylor’s family and community activists rallied to celebrate the anniversary of Taylor’s death and to hold responsibility for the officials involved in their shooting. Hundreds of demonstrators sang Taylor’s name, allegedly shouting, “You can’t stop the revolution.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old paramedic, was killed at her Louisville home on March 13, 2020 after three white police officers forced an arrest warrant in a narcotics raid on a suspect who no longer lived at Taylor’s address.
Officials opened fire after Taylor’s friend – a legal gun owner who said he did not know the people who crowded into the apartment were police officers – fired a self-defense shot. Taylor was shot and killed six times.
Taylor became a symbol of the racist and overly violent nature of law enforcement in the United States, along with George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer about two months later. Her name and the chant “Say Her Name” sparked screams in protests held in the United States in the summer of 2020, sparking a wider cultural reckoning with racism in American life.
While the city of Louisville reached a $ 12 million settlement with Taylor’s family in September 2020, none of the officials involved in the botched robbery were charged with their deaths. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was initially attempted murder over the shot he fired the night she died, which is believed to have hit an officer in the leg. These charges were dropped in May 2020, but were not finally dismissed until last Monday.
Taylor’s family – and democratic lawmakers – are calling for reform
On Friday, Walker filed a lawsuit against the Louisville city government and police officers in the raid, arguing that his constitutional rights had been violated – and that the warrant for entering the house was based on false claims.
And Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, has filed a complaint against six Louisville Metro Police Department officers.
“We believe that a thorough investigation into these allegations will reveal the lazy underbelly of a rogue police force and the efforts investigators have made to protect the officers,” Palmer’s attorney Sam Aguiar told CNN. “And if so, the LMPD must show that it cleans the house, gives Tamika Palmer the answers she has owed for a year, and honors the oaths that were sworn to protect our citizens.”
Palmer recently spoke to WLKY, the CBS station in Louisville, and expressed frustration at where things are a year later.
“Not to say that all officers are bad, but there is no accountability,” Palmer said. “So, [police] They don’t feel like they need to change their actions or behavior. “
Many Democratic lawmakers agreed to Palmer’s assessment on Saturday and called for a police reform on the occasion.
New lawmaker Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), who organized Black Lives Matter in and around Ferguson, Missouri, before joining Congress, tweeted, “Today is 365 days of injustice. Breonna Taylor’s murder was an injustice. The cover-up that followed was an injustice. “
A black woman was murdered by the police in her home in the middle of the night and nothing has fundamentally changed.
That’s why we’re not going to stop saying her name. That is why we need to legislate in defense of black lives in Congress.
– Cori Bush (@CoriBush) March 13, 2021
And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted: “It’s been a year since Breonna Taylor was killed in her home by police who executed a knock-free arrest warrant. Breonna Taylor and her family deserve justice. It is time for a major police reform. We are working to pass the Justice in Police Act in the Senate. ”
President Joe Biden also advocated the passage of this law, writing: “As we continue to mourn [Taylor]We must move forward to get a major police reform passed in Congress. “
Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy, a blow to her family, her community, and America. As we continue to mourn them, we must move forward to see meaningful police reform passed in Congress. I continue to strive to include a landmark reform law in the law.
– President Biden (@POTUS) March 13, 2021
The democratically controlled house passed the law on justice in the police for the second time in early March. It contains a number of provisions aimed at reforming the federal police force, ranging from the termination of qualified immunity (a practice that protects police officers from lawsuits). Ban the kind of no-knock drug orders that led to Taylor’s death.
When the House passed the bill in 2020, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to pass it and instead advocated a GOP-elaborated plan that proposed limited reforms. Democrats now control the Senate, and leaders like Schumer have signaled optimism about the bill being passed. However, the Democratic caucus would take 10 Republican senators to vote for the Police Justice Act to get to Biden’s desk. So far, there has been no indication that many Republicans could be ready.