Anger over not to charge Dis­may over Bre­onna ‘spills’ into US streets

Arab Times - - INTERNATIO­NAL -

LOUISVILLE, Ky, Sept 24, (AP): Anger, frus­tra­tion and sad­ness over the de­ci­sion not to charge Ken­tucky po­lice of­fi­cers for Bre­onna Tay­lor’s death poured into Amer­ica’s streets as pro­test­ers lashed out at a crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem they say is stacked against Black peo­ple. Vi­o­lence seized the demon­stra­tions in her home­town of Louisville as gun­fire rang out and wounded two po­lice of­fi­cers.

Ac­tivists, celebri­ties and ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans have been call­ing for charges since Tay­lor, an emer­gency med­i­cal worker, was shot mul­ti­ple times by white of­fi­cers af­ter one of them was shot while burst­ing into her home dur­ing a nar­cotics in­ves­ti­ga­tion in March. The of­fi­cers had a no­knock war­rant but the in­ves­ti­ga­tion showed they an­nounced them­selves be­fore en­ter­ing, said state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Daniel Cameron, a Repub­li­can and the state’s first Black top pros­e­cu­tor.

A grand jury re­turned three charges of wan­ton en­dan­ger­ment Wed­nes­day against fired Of­fi­cer Brett Hanki­son over shoot­ing into a home next to Tay­lor’s with peo­ple in­side.

Hun­dreds of de­mon­stra­tors chanted Tay­lor’s name and marched in cities in­clud­ing New York, Washington, DC, Philadel­phia, Las Ve­gas and Port­land, Ore­gon. Peo­ple gath­ered in down­town Chicago’s Mil­len­nium Park, chant­ing de­mands for jus­tice as driv­ers on Michi­gan Av­enue honked their horns. Po­lice in At­lanta un­leashed chem­i­cal agents and made ar­rests af­ter some pro­test­ers tried to climb on a SWAT ve­hi­cle. In Min­nesota and Wis­con­sin, marchers peace­fully blocked high­way traf­fic.


In Louisville, po­lice said they ar­rested 127 peo­ple af­ter what be­gan as peace­ful protests. Of­fi­cers de­clared an un­law­ful assem­bly af­ter they said fires were set in garbage cans and sev­eral ve­hi­cles were da­m­aged. A po­lice state­ment also de­scribed the “loot­ing” of sev­eral stores. In­terim Po­lice Chief Robert Schroeder said a sus­pect was de­tained in the shoot­ing of two of­fi­cers, who are ex­pected to re­cover from their wounds.

Tay­lor’s case has ex­posed the wide gulf be­tween public opin­ion on jus­tice for those who kill Black Amer­i­cans and the laws un­der which those of­fi­cers are charged, which reg­u­larly fa­vor po­lice and do not of­ten re­sult in steep crim­i­nal ac­cu­sa­tions.

Car­men Jones has protested in down­town Louisville ev­ery day for nearly three months. She said she feels de­spair af­ter the grand jury’s de­ci­sion and doesn’t know what’s com­ing.

“We’re tired of be­ing hash­tags. We’re tired of pay­ing for his­tory in our blood and our bod­ies and be­ing told to re­spond to this vi­o­lence and ag­gres­sion with peace,” she said. “We did it the Martin way for the en­tire sum­mer, and it got us nowhere. Maybe it’s time to do things the Mal­colm way.”

Jones said she still hopes their demon­stra­tions will lead to sys­temwide change in the US, but the de­ci­sion in Tay­lor’s case makes her feel like her life doesn’t mat­ter in Amer­ica.

“I don’t think I’ll sleep the same ever again, cause it would hap­pen to any of us,” she said. “The sys­tem does not care about Black peo­ple. The sys­tem chews Black peo­ple up and spits us out.”

Along with Ge­orge Floyd, a Black man killed by po­lice in Min­neapo­lis in May, Tay­lor’s name be­came a ral­ly­ing cry dur­ing na­tion­wide protests that called at­ten­tion to en­trenched racism and de­manded po­lice re­form. Her im­age is painted on streets, em­bla­zoned on protest signs and silk-screened on T-shirts worn by celebri­ties.

The FBI is still in­ves­ti­gat­ing po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of fed­eral law in con­nec­tion with the raid at Tay­lor’s home on March 13.

Af­ter the an­nounce­ment, Ben Crump, a lawyer for Tay­lor’s fam­ily, de­nounced the de­ci­sion as “out­ra­geous and of­fen­sive.” Pro­test­ers shout­ing, “No jus­tice, no peace!” took to the streets, while oth­ers sat qui­etly and wept.

Mor­gan Julianna Lee, a high school stu­dent in Char­lotte, North Carolina, watched the an­nounce­ment at home.

“It’s al­most like a slap in the face,” the 15-year-old said by phone. “If I, as a Black woman, ever need jus­tice, I will never get it.”


Au­thor­i­ties them­selves ex­pressed dis­may. At a news con­fer­ence, Cameron, the at­tor­ney gen­eral, said, “Crim­i­nal law is not meant to re­spond to ev­ery sor­row and grief.”

“But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Tay­lor. ... My mother, if some­thing was to hap­pen to me, would find it very hard,” he added, chok­ing up.

How­ever, Cameron said the of­fi­cers acted in self­de­fense af­ter Tay­lor’s boyfriend fired at them. Ken­neth Walker told po­lice he heard knock­ing but didn’t know who was com­ing in and fired in self-de­fense.

The war­rant was con­nected to a sus­pect who did not live there, and no drugs were found in­side. The city has since banned such war­rants.

“Ac­cord­ing to Ken­tucky law, the use of force by (Of­fi­cers Jonathan) Mat­tingly and (Myles) Cos­grove was jus­ti­fied to pro­tect them­selves,” Cameron said. “This jus­ti­fi­ca­tion bars us from pur­su­ing crim­i­nal charges in Miss Bre­onna Tay­lor’s death.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump read a state­ment from Cameron, say­ing “jus­tice is not of­ten easy.” He later tweeted that he was “pray­ing for the two po­lice of­fi­cers that were shot.”

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Joe Bi­den and his run­ning mate, Ka­mala Har­ris, called for polic­ing re­form.

Bi­den says that while a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues, “we do not need to wait for the fi­nal judg­ment of that in­ves­ti­ga­tion to do more to de­liver jus­tice for Bre­onna.” He said the coun­try should start by ad­dress­ing ex­ces­sive force, ban­ning choke­holds and over­haul­ing no-knock war­rants.

“We must never stop speak­ing Bre­onna’s name as we work to re­form our jus­tice sys­tem, in­clud­ing over­haul­ing no-knock war­rants,” Har­ris said on Twit­ter.

Hanki­son was fired on June 23. The three wan­ton en­dan­ger­ment charges he faces each carry a sen­tence of up to five years. A ter­mi­na­tion let­ter said he had vi­o­lated pro­ce­dures by show­ing “ex­treme in­dif­fer­ence to the value of hu­man life” when he “wan­tonly and blindly” fired his weapon.

CNN re­ported that his at­tor­ney, David Leightty, de­clined to com­ment.

Last week, the city set­tled a law­suit against the three of­fi­cers brought by Tay­lor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, agree­ing to pay her $12 mil­lion and en­act po­lice re­forms.


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