On the eve of the last day of BreonnaCon, family members of Black people killed by police and gun violence rallied in Louisville to show their support for a bill that would ban no-knock warrants in Kentucky and to let it be known that they’d like to see a nationwide ban.
BreonnaCon wraps up Tuesday with what organizers, the social justice group Until Freedom, says will be big direct action event on “Good Trouble Tuesday.”
Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, at times wiping tears from her eyes, listened to others, including people who had also lost their loved ones to police killings or gun violence. It’s a “fraternity that no parent wants to be in,” said civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has said he would represent the family of Jacob Blake, who was shot by Kenosha police in Wisconsin on Sunday.
Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin who was shot and killed in Florida in 2012, said these families are “uniting and standing together” to demand both justice and change.
“I want to tell America to search your heart,” Fulton said. “And think about it. Breanna Taylor was your daughter, and the police came to your daughter’s home and shot and killed her, how would you feel? What laws would you want to apply?”
She said Americans can no longer ignore the “ugly things” they don’t want to deal with: racism, discrimination, racial profiling.
“They are happening right there in front of your face… Now, we have to be active. We have to get involved. We have to participate. We have to continue to stand for these families,” she said before asking everyone to close their eyes and take part in a “silent meditation” for Taylor’s family and “everyone that’s listening that has lost a child to senseless gun violence, and there’s no accountability for.”
The bill they’re rallying behind would also mandate drug and alcohol testing for officers after a fatal police shooting and require penalties for officers who fail to turn on their body cameras while executing a search warrant.
State Rep. Attica Scott pre-filed the bill on Aug. 13, a few months after Louisville passed its no-knock warrant ban. On Monday, she stressed the importance to apply the ban statewide.
“Black people are in every single one of our 120 counties in Kentucky. Every single one,” she said.
She says she’s sent a letter to state house leadership, asking that they hold a hearing on the bill before January. And she lauded Pennsylvania Democratic State Senator Tim Kearney for introducing a bill, also called “Breonna’s Law,” that would ban no-knock search warrants statewide there.
Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who also spoke at the Monday press conference, spoke about Jemel Roberson, a 26-year-old security guard killed by police in 2018 while on the job. Roberson’s young son was at the event.
“Jemel Roberson should have been enough,” Merritt said. “Trayvon Martin should have been enough… So many tragedies join us here. We don’t want this club to grow any bigger. Breanna Taylor to be enough.”
“We don’t need any more members like this,” Michelle Kenney, mother of Antwon Rose, killed by police officers in 2018, said. “This club should be closed.”
Brandon Williams, nephew of George Floyd, said there’s a “major issue” happening in this country and “it needs to be addressed.”
“Change needs to happen and is only gonna happen if we come together,” Williams said. “Hopefully this sparks what needs to be done, what should have been done a long time ago.”
Writer and activist Shaun King, born and raised in Kentucky, said Louisville and Kentucky’s “system isn’t broken.”
“When a system is broken, what that means is that that system was designed well, was well-intentioned and has deviated from the way it was designed. That’s not what we’re dealing with,” he said. “This system that we’re fighting against, was designed to oppress us. It’s not broken, it’s functioning exactly the way it was imagined.”
Organizers say Tuesday’s action will involve a training, a march to Louisville Metro Police’s training academy and “mass demonstrations” around the city.