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Hundreds came to Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville Saturday evening to honor Breonna Taylor with a balloon release. 

Crowds gathered around 4 p.m. at Waterfront Park before marching through the streets to the park, where people filled the steps of Metro Hall, as well as the street and the park, many holding the white and blue balloons Taylor’s family asked them to bring. 

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

T-shirts are passed out to protesters at under an underpass at Waterfront Park on June 6, 2020

Speakers at the vigil ceremony and balloon release included local celebrities, elected officials and members of Taylor’s family. 

Her cousin Katrina Smith said she wants “justice for Bre.”

“She was a very just person,” Smith said. “She was a person that would love you, even if she didn’t know you.”

They also played a song about Taylor, written by a cousin named Kimberly Adams. 

As the music played Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, wept silently, and a family member wiped the tears from her eyes.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

A vehicle parked near Metro Hall during a vigil and balloon release for Breonna Taylor.

Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at the event organized by Taylor’s family. 

He chastised Kentucky’s Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul for blocking a federal anti-lynching bill, and, in the format of a call and response with the crowd, he said the police involved in Taylor’s death should be held accountable. 

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Crowds wait to release balloons outside Metro Hall.

“Police,” he began, waiting for the crowd to echo him, “… are citizens. When they kill, they must pay the price.”

Jackson will be interviewed by Simmons College of Kentucky President Rev. Kevin Cosby on Sunday.

Whitney King, a senior at Western Kentucky University, drove about an hour and a half from Campbellsville, Ky. for the event. She held a sign that read: “Racism is so American that when we protest racism some assume that we’re protesting America.” She said it’s a quote from Beyoncé.

“I wanted to be a part of something,” she said. 

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Protester Whitney King.

Louisville Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds told the crowd the officers involved in Taylor’s death should be fired, and prosecuted.

“We want peace,” Reynolds said. “But peace requires justice.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, whose 3rd Congressional District includes Louisville, told the audience that House members will have a “comprehensive and significant” package of proposals around police reforms by the end of June.

“Politicians don’t move until they’re pushed most of the time,” Yarmuth said. “Thanks for the push.”

At the end of the event, the crowd released hundreds of balloons into the sky and watched them float away over downtown.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Hundreds released balloons outside Metro Hall in downtown Louisville to honor Breonna Taylor on June 6, 2020.

 

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.
Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.