On September 23, a grand jury moved to indict only one officer involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor, who was asleep in her own home when police barged in to carry out a botched raid. Sgt. Brett Hankison was charged with "wanton endangerment" because some of the 10 shots he fired during the deadly encounter ended up in a neighboring apartment. He wasn't actually charged with anything directly related to Taylor's death and faces a maximum of five years in prison. No criminal charges were brought against officer Myles Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly.
After a summer defined by loss and protests for Black Lives Matter, this indictment is understandably disappointing to so many. Sadly, it's not at all surprising. As defeating as this is, it's important to press on and continue to fight for Black Lives and demand justice for Taylor. We must. If you're thinking, "well, what now?" here are some actionable steps you can take:
End No-Knock Warrants Nationwide
Following Taylor's death, the Louisville Metro Council voted to ban no-knock warrants and mandate police officers wear and turn on body cams five minutes before to “beginning an operation.” Loralei HoJay, the creator of the Breonna Taylor Change.org petition, which has more than 11 million signatures so far, is now calling on everyone to support the ban of no-knock warrants nationwide. According to the petition page, she's seeking help placing 100 billboards in Louisville and Frankfort, Kentucky. This will be the start of a national push calling on Mitch McConnell and the Senate to pass the Justice for Breonna Act and ban no-knock warrants on a federal level. You can donate here, sign the petition here, and find senator contact information here.
Support The Breathe Act
Read up on The Breathe Act, which seeks to divest taxpayer funds from police departments and invest in "a new vision of public safety—a vision that answers the call to defund the police and allows all communities to finally breathe free." Contact your local government officials to get The Breathe Act closer to the federal level. If you want more information about how you can host digital events to bring more awareness to this proposed legislation, check out their website, which is filled with even more ways to take action.
Donate and Pay Reparations
As the Louisville chapter of Black Lives Matter noted, "There isn’t a verdict in the world that will remove white supremacy from #louisville—that’s up to us as a community." Allies— especially white allies who benefit from systemic racism and their privilege—can help by donating and paying reparations so that Black families in Louisville can "have the resources they need to heal and survive in the midst of this ongoing nightmare."
You can also direct funds to the official GoFundMe that Taylor's family set up. Donations to that link will go toward advocating for police reform, various charities, women who want to start their own businesses, and scholarships for people who want to become emergency medical technicians and registered nurses.
Ahead of the grand jury decision, the city of Louisville imposed a curfew and declared a state of emergency, which could mean a bigger police presence at protests. It's so important to support the protestors who are brave enough to go out and take a stand in the coming days. As was the case when the Black Lives Matter protests gained steam earlier this summer, make sure you donate to national and local bail funds to ensure that those who are arrested for protesting and exercising their constitutional rights won't fall victim to the predatory bail system and legal fees.
This might sound like a broken record at this point, but it bears repeating: Take care of yourself first and foremost. It's been a centuries-long journey to get to where we are today, and there's still so much more that needs to be done to achieve true equality and justice for slain Black people like Taylor. But you can't be of service to anyone else if you're not looking after your mental, physical, or emotional health. (For mental health resources for Black women, check out this guide.) If you need time, rest. Then, come back stronger and ready to work.
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