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Demonstrators demand justice one year after Breonna Taylor's killing

Taylor was shot and killed in her Louisville home by police who were executing a drugs warrant.

breonna-taylor-anniversary-in-louisville-us-13-mar-2021 Protesters holding placards expressing their opinion in a memorial march from Jefferson Square Park Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

DEMONSTRATORS HAVE DEMANDED justice and police reforms as they marched yesterday on the one-year anniversary of the death of Breonna Taylor, a young Black woman mistakenly shot and killed by officers during a raid of her apartment. 

“We got two different Americas. We got one for Black Americans and one for white Americans,” Benjamin Crump, an attorney representing Taylor’s family, told the crowd of hundreds in Louisville, Kentucky.

“We got to get justice for all our people in America.”

The deaths of Taylor and George Floyd, a Black man who died under the knee of a policeman in Minneapolis, became a focus of a wave of protests last year against police abuses and racism in the United States.

Yesterday, Taylor’s mother Tamika Palmer led hundreds marching behind a large purple banner with an illustration of Taylor’s face, chanting “No justice, no peace”.

“It’s been a year and justice has not been served,” Camille Bascus, a 50-year-old African American, told AFP, tears in her eyes.

She said she had come to Louisville from Atlanta, more than 650 kilometres away, “to represent the people without voices, because they no longer have a heartbeat. We have a voice and our lives matter”.

Twelve months after the killing – in which police shot Taylor while looking for a former friend of hers – only one of three police officers has been charged, and only for endangering Taylor’s neighbors by firing wildly. 

The failure to press homicide charges – a decision denounced as “outrageous” by Taylor’s family – sparked sporadic violence in Louisville last September.

US President Joe Biden yesterday declared his support for reforms.

“Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy, a blow to her family, her community, and America,” he tweeted.

“As we continue to mourn her, we must press ahead to pass meaningful police reform in Congress. I remain committed to signing a landmark reform bill into law.”

Taylor’s family and friends are now looking to the results of a federal probe, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation saying Saturday its work was moving forward.

“Even though the Covid pandemic presented several unexpected obstacles, FBI Louisville has made significant progress in the investigation,” the field office in that city said in a statement.

The bureau remained “steadfast in its commitment to bringing this investigation to its appropriate conclusion,” the statement said.

ny-protest-in-memory-of-breonna-taylor-on-anniversary-of-her-death Activists held protest in memory of Breonna Taylor on anniversary of her murder by Louisville, Kentucky police on Times Square in New York Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

‘We need justice’

Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker were sleeping in her apartment around midnight on 13 March 2020, when they heard noise at the door. Walker, believing it was a break-in, fired his gun.

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Police, who had obtained a controversial no-knock warrant to make a drug arrest, then fired some 30 shots back, mortally wounding Taylor.  

While Walker said police battered down the door unannounced, the officers insisted they had identified themselves.

Two of the officers involved were fired in December.

Linda Sarsour, co-founder of the Until Freedom social justice organisation, said the officers need to be held accountable.

“Right now, the only thing that has happened is that the police officers have been fired from the police department, that is a human resources issue. We need justice,” she said.

Taylor’s death at first escaped widespread attention, but it suddenly became a focus for Black Lives Matter protesters following Floyd’s death on on 25 May. 

To settle a civil suit, Louisville authorities agreed to pay the Taylor family $12 million and initiate police reforms.

For Bascus, that is not enough. It “doesn’t bring Breonna Taylor back”.

© – AFP, 2021

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