Breonna & The Black Community
What’s the Fuss About?
Back in March, Detectives Brett Hankinson, Myles Cosgrove, and Sgt. John Mattingly attempted to execute a “no-knock” search warrant on Breonna Taylor’s home. The search warrant followed a months-long investigation that focused on Bre’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover, who was not at her apartment.
At the time of her death, Breonna was no longer involved with Jamarcus and had a new boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. On the morning of March 13, Breonna was sleeping next to Kenneth. When they heard a noise, they both got up and walked to the door. Breonna’s boyfriend fired a warning shot, mistaking police for intruders. Kenneth told investigators that when he heard the banging at the door, he assumed it was Bre’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus.
Police returned fire, killing Bre. According to Kenneth’s attorney, he legally owned his gun. So, he was within his right to grab it and fire a warning shot. Detective Brett Hankinson blindly fired 10 shots into Bre’s apartment from the patio. He was fired and is appealing his termination. The Kentucky attorney general, Daniel Cameron, said the police were “justified in their use of force” because Bre’s boyfriend fired first.
What’s the Injustice?
Walker was unharmed but Breonna was shot 6 times from the 18 shots fired by Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officer Myles Cosgrove. No drugs were found in the apartment and no police body camera footage of the incident. In fact, there was no evidence at all of any illegal activity.
The miscarriage of justice is the charging of only Officer Brett Hankinson, who had already been fired for shooting blindly into Breonna’s apartment. The other two officers weren’t charged at all. If that’s not enough – Hankinson’s indictment on three counts of “wanton endangerment” – were for bullets that went into another apartment, not Breonna’s.
Breonna Taylor’s family is heartbroken and outraged, and so is the Black community, after the Kentucky attorney general’s announcement that no officers would be charged in the killing of the 26-year-old aspiring nurse. Breonna’s case is yet another example of why the Black community has diminished faith in America’s law enforcement and double-standard legal system.
What Does Justice Look Like for Breonna and Her Family?
The announcement ignited public outrage and more protests in Louisville and many other parts of the country. Prior to the announcement, people gathered for months in Louisville to call for the arrests and convictions of three of the officers involved. Although the state failed to prosecute these officers, the FBI announced that it would investigate the circumstances surrounding Breonna’s death.
Breonna’s family attorneys, Ben Crump and Lonita Baker say they aren’t giving up fighting for justice and hope federal civil rights violation charges will also be brought. Although Breonna Taylor’s family reached a $12 million-dollar settlement with the city of Louisville, Crump has called on the Kentucky attorney general to release the grand jury transcripts that led to no charges being filed against the officers who shot Bre in her home while executing a search warrant.
Meanwhile, in the streets, protesters across the US have echoed calls for police accountability and justice. Breonna’s mother and other family members also joined protests in Louisville. Protests have taken place in New York, Oakland, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Are Protests Enough?
NO! Not hardly. According to the First Amendment of the US Constitution, people have the right to peacefully assemble in protest. But we must ask ourselves is protesting enough? Instead of stopping traffic, standing hours in the streets, and facing off with para-military officers, we must ask the critical question: What exactly has protesting done for us in America? Sure, people will hear our cries for justice, but have we gotten any ACTUAL justice since Reconstruction?
Do we REALLY have equal protection under the law? That’s an obvious HELL NO! Where was the equal protection under Jim Crow? Where is the equal protection in education? Where is the equal protection in employment and housing discrimination? Where is the equal protection in voting rights now? Where is the equal protection in gun rights?
What exactly has all these marches and protests gotten us? If we really want to even the playing field, we must use our money differently. We must come together. We must organize. We must support each other. Just take a close look at how other communities operate. They use their money build up their communities. They organize. They elect people to public office that represent their interests. They do not let just anyone be voted into positions of power.
Serious and organized people use their money and voting power to elect people that will represent their interests in political matters. Without someone in office to represent our interests, we get left with crumbs of power, if any are left. To manifest our power, we must first find it within ourselves and then learn how to use it the right way.
Can We Fight Differently?
YES! This is the message in The Righteous Way trilogy which was written to help inform our community on how to come together, how to organize, and how to use our money in a more meaningful way. These books echo the infinite wisdom of our ancestors and modern-day community leaders. While protests and marches might seem like a good idea to be heard, it accomplishes less than if we were to put that energy into organizing ourselves better.
We must act instead of react.
We must protect each other. We can accomplish this by FIRST teaching each other. We must be informed in order to effectively seek justice. We need the requisite information to organize and support each other. We must have cameras in our own homes, for example, because we cannot rely on police body cameras only to find answers when the police forcibly and violently break into our homes based on hunches and suspicion.
In the end, as we all have seen with the treatment of Breonna Taylor’s death, ALL WE GOT IS US! We are the answer. Our coming together and organizing to effectuate JUSTICE on all levels depends on us. That’s why people should not only read The Righteous Way, but we must inform people in our community about their GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS and how to hold public officials accountable. This is obviously a matter of life and death.