Protesters gathered in downtown Kissimmee to show support for George Floyd. George Floyd died after a confrontation while in police custody. – Kissimmee, Florida – June 2, 2020 (Shutterstock)
By Adam K. Raymon, NY Mag
Two and a half months before Minneapolis police killed George Floyd in broad daylight, Louisville police killed Breonna Taylor in the middle of the night. Unlike Floyd’s case, which ignited immediate protests in the Twin Cities and across the country, it took months for people to take to the streets on behalf of the 26-year-old ER technician and former EMT who was shot dead in her own home. By this weekend, that had changed.
Sunday afternoon, after three consecutive nights of tense protests in downtown Louisville, hundreds of demonstrators — some holding signs, nearly all wearing face masks — gathered outside of the University of Louisville basketball arena on Main Street and yelled Taylor’s name. The “Healing Ceremony,” organized by Black Lives Matter Louisville, began with a breathing exercise, singing, and a prayer. White attendees were asked to turn to black ones and apologize for slavery, for Jim Crow, for mass incarceration, and for the killings of Floyd, Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
“I’m sorry for Breonna,” Jecorey Arthur, a local activist and educator, told the rallygoers, some of them wiping their tears. “You gotta say that one as loud as you can. She came from right here in this city. I’m sorry for Breonna! I’m sorry for Breonna!”
Arthur, like many protesters in Louisville, called for the firing and arrest of the police officers involved in Taylor’s shooting. On March 13, three members of the Louisville Metro Police Department burst into the 26-year-old’s apartment at 12:40 a.m. as a part of a drug investigation. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, believed someone was breaking in and fired his legal firearm one time. Police returned fire, and Taylor was shot eight times. She died on her hallway floor.
While none of the officers involved in Taylor’s killing have been arrested, Walker was. He was charged with attempted murder. Last Tuesday, more than ten weeks after Taylor was shot and after the case began to receive national attention, the charges were dropped. Officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove, meanwhile, remain on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation.
“There is no reason why those officers should still be employed,” said State Representative and U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker, who was tear-gassed at protests Saturday and spoke at Sunday’s rally. “I know an investigation is happening, but we can see what’s right before our faces, that law enforcement kicked in their door, no one knew who was coming in, it was in the dead of night, they killed a woman that was doing everything right, and her partner that was defending her was arrested and charged with attempted murder.”