Breonna Taylor: Say Her Name

 

It has to be a indictment of the American justice system that occurred when a Kentucky Grand Jury decided none of the Louisville, Ky police officers would face charges for the shooting death of Breonna Taylor after they tried to execute a no knock warrant at her apartment in an March 13 early morning raid. One officer was charged with three counts of “Wanton Endangerment” for firing his weapon into Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment. Essentially, the attorney general for Kentucky, a black man who is a rising star in the republican party, made the argument that under state law, that the officers were within their rights for discharging their weapons that fateful night killing Taylor. But one officer is charged for shooting an apartment.

The officers were attempting to execute a no-knock warrant at the home of a drug dealer who once dated Taylor. She was coming off a shift after treating Covid 19 patients as an emergency technician. The drug dealer was no longer seeing Taylor and her now boyfriend was with her sleeping when the police entered the apartment. Her boyfriend believing the apartment was being broken into fired his weapon he had a permit for at the intruders. A gunfight ensued and, in the end, Breonna was hit six times killing her. Advocates for justice believed she was wrongly murdered and after 6 months no charges were filed.

Taylor’s family recently settled with the city of Louisville, for $12 million and a promise to begin sweeping police reforms. Her family said the settlement was not justice and remained hopeful charges would be filed against the 3 policemen for murdering Breonna. They were of course disappointed the charges were not forthcoming.

The city of Louisville announced a state of emergency in anticipation of an announcement that would anger black residents hungry for justice. They of course must have known the outcome of the usually secret grand jury proceedings.

Police are protected by laws that extend immunity and special rights that rise to the license to kill in performance of their duties. Much of these laws were born as high crime rose in cities and laws were imposed that protected policemen to carry out their war against crime. The problem of course is those protections and caveats were abused routinely by police departments. Police unions and pro law enforcement politicians have kept the protections and fiercely fought against any attempt to pare them back.

The result is that police average around 1000 shooting deaths of civilians with a tiny sliver of those subject to legal scrutiny. It took the public slow painful murder of George Floyd to jar a nation into anger over those cops too eager to use lethal force. Every major city in America has taken to the streets to protest violent police tactics. Oddly, the police have too often used violence to attack protestors of police violence. Also, police violence has not slowed as more acts of mayhem at the hands of Peace Officers continue.

Four Louisiana policemen were charged this week with negligent homicide and malfeasance after a video exposed the officers beating a black man who later died, and they said he actually died of a heart attack. Charges are starting to occur more often; however, critics of the charges say the policemen should have been given a harsher charge for literally beating a man to death.

While there has been a call for defunding police, perhaps a better plan would be to defang police by mandating they actually protect and serve. There continues to be a criminal element or others, for reasons of their own, resist police at every turn and that will make moving forward a trying time. But change must happen because the status quo cannot stand. Bad cops must be removed from the force. Laws shielding cops from prosecution must be removed, and other reforms are needed to change the dangerous environment we now face. Hopefully, the Federal investigation will bring charges the government of Kentucky is unwilling or unable to carry out.

Tulsa will seek the death penalty against a man for the murder of a Tulsa policeman and attempted murder of his partner. Under state law the murder of a policemen in performance of his duty is reason to elevate the charge to a death penalty. Not arguing the tragic nature of the crime, but shouldn’t a black woman’s life be just as valuable whose only crime was sleeping in her own bed?

For starters, Breonna Taylor’s life must be worth more than an apartment and dangerous men can no longer have a license to kill. Remember her name. Now, in the aftermath of the announcement, protestors have taken to the streets and someone has shot two policemen. Fortunately, the injuries are not life threatening. However, violence against policemen will stop reforms and change. We cannot become like our aggressors and expect justice.

Marker Designates Site of Race Massacre

One of the common responses over the last couple of years is people saying they never learned of the horrible race massacre growing up. Well, that was on purpose as the city of Tulsa, and state of Oklahoma, swept the incident under the rugs of history. As Tulsa stumbles towards the recognition of the 100 year anniversary of what many call the worst racial incident in American history, there are attempts to recognize what happened.

There will be movies, books, and events of every kind to recognize what happened those savage two days. Now, a historic marker sits on north Greenwood to show everyone the place where death and destruction took place nearly 100 years ago.

The effort is the result of the Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition and Equal Justice Initiative in developing the historical marker. Hard to believe there has never been a marker showing where the race massacre occurred.

One of Oklahoma’s most storied institutions of higher learning, the University of Oklahoma, will spend the year discussing the importance and history surrounding the 1921 Race Massacre. OU sees creating meaningful discussions as a way of not only shedding light on that dark stain on Tulsa’s past but to help foster a more inclusive culture on their multiple campuses.

As Tulsa and Oklahoma continue to educate and reckon with the aftermath of this tragic historic event, bringing honesty and light is a positive step in the direction of healing.