We are processing the news of the Kentucky Grand Jury decision in the case of Breonna Taylor’s murder with deep grief and rage. Although not surprising, this decision shows us, yet again, how the life of a Black community member, and especially a Black womxn, is not valued.
Breonna Taylor was killed in her home on March 13, 2020 as the result of a botched no-knock raid conducted by three Louisville police officers. Not one officer has been indicted for the murder of Breonna Taylor. One officer has been indicted for wanton endangerment of Breonna’s neighbors. This is the same charge someone receives for shooting a gun into the air. A Black womxn lost her life and the only charges were for the bullets that hit the wall.
This farce of justice holds a clear message: this system was not designed to provide justice. In fact, it was designed to harm and oppress Black and Brown people. As communities across the country respond to this news in the streets with justifiable anger and in solidarity, police violence against protestors escalates. When there is more reprimand for community members showing civil disobedience in the face of injustice than for public servants who have failed in their charge to “serve and protect,” how can we see anything but a system that is irreparably broken?
YWCA Olympia is committed to full systems change that reflects integrity with our core values: Centering Black and Indigenous Womxn & Womxn of Color, People over Systems, Accountability and Collective Care. We must divest resources from the institutions of policing and incarceration and radically reimagine what safety means for our communities. We must support and uplift the leadership of communities that have been silenced, marginalized and murdered throughout the painful history of our country.
Olympia is not immune to the gross disregard for the value of Black womxn’s lives. Our city has yet to fully and adequately acknowledge the harm caused to the family of Yvonne McDonald, who tragically died after being treated with an egregious lack of care by our city’s police and first responders.
These tragedies are inextricably related by systemic racism and the institutions that uphold it. We can’t back down now. This grand jury decision is a glaring reminder that although the initial frenzy of the Black Lives Matter Uprisings may have subsided, we still have a mountain to climb. We are calling on each person reading this letter to reflect deeply on your commitment to racial justice. If you have attended a racial justice protest or made a social media post, if you have a Black Lives Matter sign in your lawn, if your organization published a statement around the murder of George Floyd, now is the time to deepen your commitment and take bolder action than ever before.
Here are some ways to contribute to meaningful change:
- Continue to put pressure on elected officials with demands from BIPOC communities.
- Justice for Breonna demands and action steps
- New demands put out by SURJ National: Call Kentucky’s Attorney General to demand that the Attorney General’s office release the grand jury transcript and let the community know who was interviewed, who testified, and what information was used to come to this outrageous decision exonerating the police officers who killed Breonna. Call his office at 502-696-5300 with this message: Release the transcript of the investigation into Breonna Taylor’s death.
- Call Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to fire the officers who killed Breonna and to defund the police. A core demand of Breonna’s family is that the officers who killed Breonna be fired. Tell Mayor Fischer to fire the officers who killed Breonna Taylor and explain why this matters to you. Call on him to shift funding from over-policing Black and Brown communities to addressing community needs in Louisville like affordable housing, mental health services, youth programs and other efforts that are about life, not death. His office is 502 574-2003 (call between 9-5pm EST)
- Call County Attorney Mike O’Connell to tell him to drop charges against Black women leading the way. The day after the Attorney General’s decision was released, the police targeted State Representative Attica Scott, the only Black woman in the Kentucky State Legislature, and the lead sponsor of legislation to ban no knock warrants, known as Breonna’s Law. Police charged her, her 19 year old daughter Ashanti, Shameka Parrish Wright, and other leaders of the 122+ days of protest, with felony riot charges as they tried to assist other protesters seeking sanctuary in a church. Fill out this form to enter your comment into the public record.
- Help Pass Breonna’s Law. Representative Attica Scott has introduced Breonna’s Law to end No Knock Warrants, something issued by a judge and used by police to burst in on Breonna and her partner Kenneth Walker without alerting them, and resulting in her death. Sign on as a community sponsor here even if you do not live in Kentucky. This is an issue of concern nationwide.
- Black Leaders in Action and Solidarity Thurston County (BLAST) demands for local leaders, including Justice for Yvonne McDconald
- Let Black folks in your life, be they friends, family or co-workers, know that they can take space to process this and be with their communities and families.
- Organizational leaders, make paid time off for mental wellness accessible.