In the wake of this week’s grand jury decision to indict only one of the Louisville Metro Police Department officers responsible for fatally shooting Breonna Taylor in March, and to charge him only with wanton endangerment, protesters have continued to take to the streets as organizers plan the path forward. In recent months, Prism’s criminal justice reporter Tamar Sarai Davis has followed Taylor’s story, the uprisings in the wake of her death, and the efforts to implement police accountability. Catch up with Prism’s coverage below.
In order to meaningfully respond to the grand jury decision—one that comes after 119 days of sustained protest in Louisville—organizers left the public with a host of action items. For those unable to protest, organizers encourage volunteering or donating to local food banks such as Feed the West in Louisville. They also expressed support for civil unrest such as “disturbing business as usual” by reading the demands aloud at a local restaurant, hopefully bringing new people into the conversation.
[M]obilization came only after two months of silence about Taylor’s death. There are many reasons her story took so long to arrive on the national stage. For one, the officers who murdered Taylor were a part of the LMPD Criminal Interdiction Unit, which does not wear body cameras. In today’s social media news cycle, stories about police brutality often grab public attention most aggressively when accompanied by video footage. Secondly, as The 19th editor-at-large Errin Haines writes, the silence around Taylor reflects the lack of attention often afforded to Black women who face state violence. However, this postponed outrage also owes to early media accounts that tell a very different story about what happened that March evening—a story that, like most crime coverage, was heavily informed, if not deliberately shaped, by police accounts.
The use of no-knock warrants has been proven to be both ineffective and deadly. While their use rose exponentially throughout the 1990s in both large cities and small towns, a 2017 New York Times study found that no-knock warrants led to the deaths of at least 100 people in the prior seven years. That violence is also often disproportionately waged against communities of color. An ACLU study of 20 cities found that 42% of SWAT style raids—a type of unannounced search that utilizes specialized military equipment and tactics—targeted Black people and 12% targeted Latinx people.
While in the midst of a global pandemic that has already taken over 100,000 lives in the U.S. alone, thousands of protestors have had to make the difficult choice between protecting their own health by staying at home or taking direct action to end state-sanctioned murders—knowing that Black lives hang in the balance either way. For many, however, protesting is either not feasible or represents a risk they aren’t willing to take. Even so, here are four other meaningful ways to get involved and learn more about what this moment is about, what set it in motion, and what it means for our nation’s future.
See you next week.