No Justice, No Peace
Updated: Sep 23, 2020
There will be no justice for Breonna Taylor.
Like all those who came before her, Taylor’s unnecessary death will come to symbolize the many ways in which our nation’s police continue to terrorize the very communities they are sworn to protect and serve. Taylor’s only crime, apparently, was that she once dated the wrong man.
For that, a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as an Emergency Room technician at two local hospitals and hoped to become a nurse was murdered in her own bed by three white cops. The details of this case are as disturbing as they are incredulous.
The officers, looking for a drug trafficking suspect who happened to be Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, busted into her apartment as she and her current boyfriend slept. Thinking their apartment had just been broken into by assailants, Taylor’s boyfriend shot one of the cops in the leg. In response, the officers -- who unbeknownst to Taylor and her boyfriend had executed a no-knock warrant -- returned a volley of gunfire, indiscriminately shooting into the apartment.
The tragic and predictable result: A young woman in the prime of her life died for no reason. Oh, and by the way. The man the cops were looking for was already in police custody.
This all happened six months ago, and today a Grand Jury in Kentucky decided the officers’ actions were justified. One of the three was charged with wanton endangerment for putting Taylor’s neighbors at risk. That’s it.
In other words, one officer will likely face more punishment for the people who weren’t shot than for the woman who was killed.
Once again, we have a situation in this country in which cops are permitted to assault and murder civilians with near impunity. When police kill, it is deemed legally justified nearly 100 percent of the time.
This isn’t just a problem for African-Americans. It’s a problem for all of us. Yes, cops kill Black Americans and other people of color at disproportionately higher rates. However, they kill white people too. And, guess what? They almost always get away with it in those instances as well.
There have been some particularly egregious examples of police killings of African-Americans that have been deemed justified over the years. Eric Garner had the life choked out of him for selling loose cigarettes. Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old, was shot and killed for playing with a toy gun in a public park. Philando Castile was murdered in his car, in front of his girlfriend, after telling the cop who had pulled him over that he had a legal firearm inside the vehicle.
Breonna Taylor’s murder is right up there with the worst examples of police negligence and recklessness. The city of Louisville has already agreed to pay Taylor’s family $12 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit. A state of emergency was declared before the Grand Jury even came to its decision. One of the cops involved in this killing has been fired, and the other two are on administrative leave.
It seems like there are a lot of people who understand that what happened was wrong. Why doesn’t our legal system?
Assault, murder and violence against women are three things that we, as a society, find abhorrent. Yet, when an individual puts on a police uniform, all three suddenly become justifiable under the law. This must change. Cops are being given far too much leeway in our society when they are legally shielded from breaking into someone’s residence and killing an innocent woman as she sleeps.
Tonight, there will be civil unrest in Louisville. That much is almost certain. There is a strong likelihood it will spread to other cities, like it did during the George Floyd protests.
There is good reason for it too. Once again, our legal system has sent a message to the people of this nation that the lives of our Black citizens don’t matter.
We need to send a message right back that they do.