LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On the March 13 anniversary of the midnight police raid that took Breonna Taylor’s life last year, hundreds of people marched through downtown Louisville to demand the police responsible be held accountable. Demands to prosecute the police are very popular among working people here and around the country.
“Until a jury trial tells us that these officers are not guilty, there’s always time to indict,” Lonita Baker, one of the attorneys for Taylor’s family, said at the protest. “And that’s what we’re going to continue to fight for.”
This was the first large street protest since October. Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, marched behind a banner bearing her daughter’s image. In addition to Palmer, other speakers included Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker; Ben Crump, an attorney for the family and for the family of George Floyd, who was killed by cops in Minneapolis; and Sadiqa Reynolds, Louisville Urban League president.
Relatives of others killed by police around the country also took part. Half an hour before Sean Monterrosa was killed by cops in Vallejo, California, last June his sister, Michelle, told the crowd that he had texted her urging she sign a petition for justice for George Floyd.
The rally was organized by Until Freedom and Taylor’s family.
In an attempt to discourage participation, city officials erected concrete barriers and stationed dump trucks in the streets around the rally site.
Protests demanding the Louisville cops responsible for killing Breonna Taylor be brought to justice have dwindled in recent months. They got smaller as vandalism, looting and confrontations against local small businessmen and workers organized by antifa and Black Lives Matter leaders increasingly marked actions here and elsewhere last summer. This discouraged many working people from participating. The involvement of a group armed with long guns along the perimeter of the anniversary rally site, supposedly providing “security,” also limited the appeal.
Just a week earlier, people carrying “Black Lives Matter” banners organized a small action outside a cheerleaders competition at the Kentucky Convention Center. “The reason why you get to be here in these pretty little gorgeous outfits and your gorgeous hair and your gorgeous bows is because of your white privilege,” Carmen Jones of the Black Women’s Collective lectured the young women and their parents. “Breonna is dead. Black mothers are burying their babies while white mothers send their daughters to cheer competitions.” She told them to “do something black today with your white privilege.”
“We need broad disciplined protests open to everyone who supports the demand to prosecute the police responsible for the raid as well as those that pulled their triggers,” said Margaret Trowe, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor here.
Continuing pressure for action
No police or city official has been charged in Taylor’s killing. Three cops involved in the raid have been fired. Brett Hankison, the only officer indicted for anything, was fired last year. He was charged, not with killing Taylor, but for wanton endangerment after shooting into neighboring apartments during the raid. Detective Joshua Jaynes was fired earlier this year for lying to obtain the search warrant, and Detective Myles Cosgrove, who launched the fatal shot, also was dismissed.
The day before the protest, Taylor’s mother filed complaints against six officers for their actions that night and in the “investigation” that led to the raid. This includes obtaining the court order for the raid under false pretenses, failure to turn on their body cameras during the assault, and tampering with a crime scene and evidence.
Last year Palmer settled a wrongful death suit with the city for $12 million and officials’ agreement on a series of supposed reforms, including more oversight by top commanders, safeguards in conducting raids, and flagging officers accused of using excessive force. The city admitted no wrongdoing in Taylor’s killing.
As the cops broke through the door to Taylor’s apartment, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, not knowing it was police, fired his legally owned pistol once, wounding Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly. Walker was arrested, then released, and a week before the rally all charges against him were permanently dismissed by a judge.
The crowd at the rally cheered when Walker announced the charges had been dropped for good.