“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” The beginning of a prayer we all know too well. If you ask most people how they think they will die, it’s usually a case of sickness or old age, unless you’re black. As a black person, it isn’t an insane thought to be killed by a racist, a member of some KKK or terrorist group, the system that oppresses us daily, or the epitome of all three of those things combined: a white police officer.
Yesterday, September 23rd, marked the 65th anniversary of the acquittal of Emmit Till’s murderers by an all white jury. It also marked the date of the acquittal of Breonna Taylor’s murderers. Most of us are aware of and have been following the events of Breonna Taylor’s death since it became a mass media case back in May. Here’s a quick recap though.
On March 13, three police officers entered the home of Breonna Taylor, where she and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were sleeping, on a no-knock warrant for a narcotics case. The suspect they were looking for, an ex-boyfriend of Taylor’s, did not live there (we later found out he was already in police custody at the time the warrant was enforced). Dressed in plain clothes, the three officers forced themselves into the apartment and were met by gunfire from Walker, who believed that there was a home invasion in progress. According to police, one officer was hit by the warning shot that Walker fired (ballistics were inconclusive about whether or not the officer was actually shot by Walker’s gunfire). In retaliation, the officers “blindly” shot around 45-65 rounds into the home. Walker and Taylor’s family attorney say that 8 of the rounds hit Breonna. She was left unattended in her home as she died from the injuries sustained by the bullets (according to A.G Cameron, only one bullet was actually fatal). Walker was arrested and charged for attempted murder of a police officer (the charges were later dropped pending further investigation).
In the months since her death, we have seen a wave of movements, speeches, articles, and protests that demand racial justice and accountability for the harsh and unnecessary uses of extreme force and retaliation that have led to the deaths of numerous black people at the hands of this crooked system. We have spent generations demanding justice for our people; for the whole of human life to be regarded as equal, or at the very least, worth living regardless of any factors, especially race and racial stigmas.
In the grand jury indictment determination yesterday, there were no charges brought up against the officers whose bullets killed Taylor. Former officer Brett Hankison was charged on three counts of wanton endangering for firing into the home of Taylor’s white neighbors during the raid (there were no charges brought up for the wanton endangerment of the black family that lived above Taylor despite the fact that there were rounds fired into their apartment as well, according to Taylor’s family attorneys by way of ABC News). The unfortunate truth here is that as much as we would like to have charges brought upon the other two officers involved for the murder of another innocent black life, they seem to have the law on their side. Let me break it down.
According to the information we know, the police officers were serving a warrant. Although there are conflicting stories on whether or not the warrant was obtained on proper pretenses, [according to ABC News, on May 15, “Louisville postal inspector Tony Goodsen said his office did not inspect the packages delivered to Breonna Taylor’s home. This ‘directly contradicts what the police stated in the affidavit to secure a no-knock warrant for the home,'”]despite, the officers had a warrant that had been signed by a judge to enter and search the home of Breonna Taylor. When they entered and Walker fired the first shot, the officers were technically in their rights to defend themselves from further gunfire. The death of Breonna Taylor, as the “reasoning” that the city is giving, was a subsequent side effect of self defense of officers serving a warrant. As they have acknowledged it was a unfortunate case, they do seriously believe that they were in their rights to “blindly” shoot back into the direction of the initial shots fired.
After reading multiple documents, it is in fact considered an act of self defense for a police officer to shoot back at potential threats; death by way of these means, especially when serving warrants, is covered in first and second party instances, when the person that dies is in direct affiliation with the crimes committed. The grand jury in Louisville stood on the premise that Taylor was a first or second party. The fact is though, Taylor was a third party. Walker fired the first shot (not at all to say that he should’ve been the one killed), and shots were “blindly” and erratically fired by police officers with gun safety and target shooting training. The grand jury did not indict the officers whose bullets were found in Taylor because they stretched the “self defense” statement to a third party.
Regardless of why they didn’t indict the officers, the real problem here is why, yet again an innocent black life had to be taken by cops that were “frightened” while doing their job. There is no way that any person in their right mind would casually sit around after their front door was stormed in by three white men in plain clothes. Even white people would’ve opened fire! Yet and still here we again looking down this dark, cold well of injustice. Really and truly it is exhausting. She deserved so much more, the city of Louisville had such a premium opportunity to show some change in the legal justice system. This could have been the turning point of the legality of disposal of black lives. While the FBI is still investigating this case, we know in our heart of hearts that she may never get the justice she deserves.
Now is the time for change like we’ve never seen change before. Please don’t be the person to say that we’ve been here before. Please don’t think or believe that this is a new issue, or one that has just started coming back around. We never had a chance, the fight never ended. I could go on and on and on about black trauma and how it is rooted in our bones, how our blood bleeds pain and suffering, how our minds are inherently routed to be hyper vigilant in an attempt to avoid instances just like this one. My heart is broken for this black woman and her family; for every black woman and their families. “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,”(Malcom X). Why is it so FUCKING hard to be protected as a black woman????
There were a million obvious issues with this case. There are too many conflicting stories and too much information that doesn’t make sense. Why was a no-knock warrant signed to begin with? Why were the officers in plain clothes? Why didn’t they verify their facts prior to serving the warrant? Why were there no body cameras? Why was there no one called by the officers to help Breonna after she was shot? Why were the lives of the next door neighbors more important than hers? Why do we keep going down this road? But most importantly, why does the system allow this?
“If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” This was not a life that should’ve been taken. She was undeserving of every action; from the time the warrant was sought out to today and further pending. She is another soul lost to the ways of this systemic genocide of black people. She was a daughter, she was a friend, she was a professional, but she was a black woman in America and for that reason alone, this system has failed to protect her. Breonna Taylor and family, from the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry that this is your story too. I’m so sorry that they still haven’t been able to come through. I promise to keep fighting for you and all the women and men like you. My heart aches for all the victims of police brutality and systemic inequality. My heart breaks for each of us, but NOW we must stand together and demand a change!
Link to the Facebook live regarding this post and other black issues: https://www.facebook.com/celena.tenice/videos/2881523715399724/?extid=0&d=n