By Abayomi Azikiwe
A grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky has legally absolved of criminal responsibility the police officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cogrove, involved in the shooting death of 26-year old Breonna Taylor, who was gunned down in her home on March 13.
A Republican state attorney general, Daniel Cameron, called a press conference to inform the world that as of September 23 no one would be indicted for the death of Taylor.
The attorney general suggested that her friend in the apartment with Taylor, Kenneth Walker, was responsible for her death due to the fact that he fired in self-defense against the police. Only in relation to a neighbor in the building at another unit, where no one was injured, was a charge of reckless discharge of a firearm leveled against another police officer, Brett Hankinson, who was already terminated from the Louisville Police Department (LPD).
This action by the authorities in Kentucky was met with immediate condemnation in Louisville and across the United States. The family of Taylor immediately rejected the grand jury decision and demanded the release of all deliberations of the panel in order to uncover the actual evidence presented.
Bianca Austin, an Aunt of Taylor, read a statement at a September 25 press conference in Louisville saying:
“Know this: I am an angry Black woman. Angry because our Black women keep dying at the hands of police officers … you robbed the world of a queen…. I never had faith in [State Attorney General] Daniel Cameron to begin with. I knew he was too inexperienced with a job of this caliber. I knew he chose to be at the wrong side of the law. My hope was that he knew he had the power to do the right thing. That he had the power to start the healing of this city, that he had the power to help mend over 400 years of oppression. What he helped me realize is that it will always be us against them. That we are never safe,” she said.
Attorney General Cameron made the claim that the testimony from one witness asserting that the police had announced themselves prior to the raid on the apartment was compelling enough to discount that the raid was unannounced. Many other witnesses refuting the allegation saying there was no warning by police of an imminent breaking down of the apartment door.
Prior to this statement by Cameron, many reports indicated that the police entered the complex on the basis of a “no knock” warrant. Such police intrusions have been frequent for many decades particularly related to the so-called “war on drugs” waged against the African American communities nationally.
On September 28, a judge ordered that the proceeding of the grand jury be made public. The Attorney General’s office requested additional time to release the materials in order to cover over, or redact what they described as “personal information.”
One report on the order read in part as follows:
“Attorney General Daniel Cameron wants more time before releasing grand jury recordings to redact personal information. A judge ordered Monday (September 28) that Kentucky’s attorney general must release recordings of proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case, in which one officer was indicted, but not for her death. Cameron’s office said Monday that it would release recordings by Wednesday at noon, but newly obtained court documents show a motion for extension was filed sometime on Tuesday. In the motion, Cameron asks for another week in order to redact personal information. He says it will help protect private citizens and witnesses.”
Nationwide Response to the Grand Jury Whitewash
Demonstrations erupted almost immediately in Louisville and other cities after news of the grand jury decision reached the public. Many of these marches and rallies were led by African American women. Two days later on Saturday, September 26, the March for Black Women (M4BW) held rallies in many cities including Denver and Detroit.
In Louisville on September 23, the police declared an unlawful assembly after marchers wanted to demonstrate in the streets and not on the sidewalks. A curfew was imposed on the city while many people were beaten and arrested on false charges. Additional marches, civil disobedience and other actions were held from New York to California bringing thousands into the streets and highways.
Denver, Colorado and Buffalo, New York witnessed attacks on demonstrators by motorists plowing into the crowds just hours after the announcement of the grand jury decision. Over the last few weeks in the U.S. there have been mobilizations by right-wing supporters of President Donald Trump, some of these manifestations resulted in violence due to provocations by the neo-fascists groups claiming they are present to defend the police and private property.
A television news story reported on the situation in upstate New York saying:
“Graphic video taken by ABC affiliate station WKBW-TV in Buffalo showed a maroon and white king-cab pickup truck drive directly into a group of demonstrators who pounded on the side of the truck and yelled for the driver to stop just before a protester on a bicycle was hit. The footage shows the truck speeding away as protesters on foot chased after it.”
Georgia state troopers and National Guard soldiers fired teargas at demonstrators in Atlanta as they expressed their anger at the failure of the Louisville authorities to indict the police in the Taylor execution. 11 people were taken into custody in Atlanta which has seen numerous incidents of police violence after the killing of George Floyd on May 25 and later the gunning down by a white patrolman of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s restaurant on June 12. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) announced that it has completed its investigation involving the case on September 29. Former police officer Garrett Rolfe has been charged with felony murder in the killing of Brooks.
State officials in Georgia are known for the deliberate disenfranchisement and disregard for the city of Atlanta and other municipalities highly populated by African Americans. Governor Brian Kemp, who came into office after a contested and controversial 2018 election against former state legislative Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, has nullified any mitigation efforts imposed by municipalities to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on the state.
For two days in the motor city, the Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) coalition called emergency demonstrations to denounce the vindication of police in the death of Breonna Taylor. On the evening of September 23, hundreds gathered outside Detroit police headquarters downtown for a rally and then march through the streets while chanting the name of Breonna Taylor and other anti-racist, Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality slogans. There was another similar demonstration again on September 25.
Police Killings of African Americans Documented
A mapping website which chronicles the number of African Americans and others killed by police in the U.S. has revealed the stark reality facing at least 40 million Blacks along with millions more belonging to various races and nationalities. In most cases the police involved are never investigated let alone prosecuted.
Black Enterprise magazine noted in a September article that:
“For its analysis, CBS News used data from Mapping Police Violence, a comprehensive database of killings by police officers and The Washington Post. The data, featured in a slideshow, described the killings of 85 Black people this year between January and April. The data also showed that at least one Black person was killed by police every week from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.”
Many more African Americans are joining gun clubs as their security becomes even more jeopardized by the racist social atmosphere in various regions of the U.S. Irrespective of the outcome of the national elections on November 3, undoubtedly these racial incidents will increase.