“The most disrespected person in America, is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman,” said Malcom X, a civil rights activist.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old innocent African American woman, who was murdered by three white police officers who fired multiple rounds into her apartment as she slept and broke down her front door, was denied the opportunity to receive justice. Known by her family as “Bree,” she was an EMT and an aspiring nurse who was unable to experience the fullness of life, because her fragile essence of human existence was abruptly ended.
On March 13, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky, Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove entered Breonna’s apartment unidentified--although a single witness claims otherwise--in a raid and fired 32 shots. Six of those bullets hit Breonna Taylor, but officials said that only the death shot mattered.
Twice the American justice system has failed Breonna Taylor. First, when she was killed by those sent to serve and protect her and, next, when her killers were not indicted for her murder by a grand jury.
“I took the (lack of indictment) as ‘next time, don’t miss, that’s a waste of bullets,’” said Emani Watson, a 22-year-old in the accountancy program at the University of Mississippi. “I realized the complexity of the justice system, where it is completely legal to get charged for endangering lives, but not for killing an innocent civilian. It is so systematically soaked with racism and loopholes.”
The Louisville Metro Police Department promised Taylor’s family a future of police reform in order to assure future improvement in the metropolitan area. Her family was awarded a $12 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit, yet there were no charges against those who murdered her.
Hankison, one of the three officers involved in Taylor’s murder, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for recklessly shooting into Breonna’s apartment walls and her neighbors walls. For those who are unfamiliar with the charge, it is defined as “a person, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, who deliberately engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.” The maximum sentence for each charge is five years in prison and, if convicted, Hankison faces a potential 15-year sentence.
The charge is the equivalence of saying an apartment wall is more valuable than an innocent, young Black woman’s life. Unfortunately, if you are Black in America, you have to prove there is value in your human life.
“I was outraged when I heard about what happened to Breonna Taylor,” said Brielle Goode-Cliff, a 24-year-old military records manager. “But at the same time, I am numb to it all. I am just so used to it. It makes me feel like my life does not matter. I encourage all, but especially Black women, to get their gun license and carry at all times. Jail time is better than the grave.”
In the midst of a pandemic, protesters continue to fight through the possibilities of contracting COVID-19, in order to showcase their support for Breonna Taylor and the Black Lives Matter movement. For 122 consecutive days, protesters marched in Louisville, shouting her name, in hopes that Breonna Taylor would receive the justice that she deserves.
“If you are arrested for protesting the killing of Breonna Taylor, your bail bond will be set at $1,000,000,” Bobby Boucher Esq said on Twitter. “If you killed Breonna Taylor, your bail bond will be set at $15,000.”
The city of Louisville recently implemented a curfew to further prohibit the community from the continuous protest. We live in a society where fighting for basic human rights and justice to be served is more punishable than committing the crime and devaluing another human’s right to live.
Each year in America, thousands of unarmed Black men and women are murdered at the hands of police officers with little to no justice in return. Police brutality is a plague that has been allowed to run rampant in America, all stemming from deeply rooted racism.
Breonna Taylor was a young Black woman with her entire life ahead of her. If she receives no justice, her story will never know peace.