#SayHerName: Supporters organize justice efforts on birthday of EMT Breonna Taylor
Activists are calling for the arrests of the officers involved in the fatal shooting of Kentucky EMT and ER Technician Breonna Taylor, who would have turned 27 on Friday
By Laura French
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Activists are rallying for justice for Kentucky EMT and ER Technician Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by police in March, on what would have been her 27th birthday.
Taylor was struck eight times by Louisville police who were shooting during a drug raid at her home. Police said they were returning fire from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who said he shot in self-defense because he believed the officers, who were serving a “no knock” warrant, were intruders.
A lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family states that a suspect named Jamarcus Glover, not Taylor nor Walker, was the main subject of the drug investigation and had already been detained prior to the raid, according to the Associated Press. Neither Taylor nor Walker had any criminal history and no drugs were found in the raided apartment.
Walker was initially charged with attempted murder for firing at the officers but the charges have since been dismissed without prejudice.
The case is currently under investigation by the FBI and Kentucky Attorney General.
Taylor’s case has received more widespread attention after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
On Friday, June 5, activists took to social media and organized campaigns to advocate for the firings and arrests of the three officers involved in the shooting and for an end to “no knock” warrants.
"#SayHerName” rose to the number one trending hashtag on Twitter on Friday, and "#BirthdayforBreonna,” "#JusticeforBreonna” and “Happy Birthday Breonna Taylor” were also widely circulated on the site.
Along with photographs and artwork shared in tribute to Taylor, who worked as an ER technician at Medical Center Jewish East and Norton Healthcare and was a certified EMT who had previously worked in that role for the city of Louisville, supporters circulated resources for contacting local leaders with demands to terminate and charge Officer Jon Mattingly, Detective Brett Hankison and Detective Myles Cosgrove.
Activists also called for a permanent ban to “no knock” warrants after the Louisville Metro Police Department temporarily suspended the use of such warrants last week, according to the Associated Press.
Mattingly, Hankison and Cosgrove, who served the warrant at Taylor’s home shortly after midnight on March 13, were in plain clothes and, according to neighbors, did not announce or identify themselves.
“We demand that a special session be convened to ban no-knock warrants immediately. We demand justice for Breonna Taylor. You cannot shoot an innocent civilian and call it a ‘clerical error’ — we will not have it,” one widely-circulated flyer encouraged supporters to say when calling officials.
The flyer also recommends callers demand Mattingly, Hankison and Cosgrove be immediately fired and charged with manslaughter and negligence.
Many public figures including politicians, celebrities and renowned activists also called for justice on social media.
“Happy Birthday to #BreonnaTaylor, who should be turning 27 today. We are STILL DEMANDING justice. We will continue to #SayHerName until all officers involved are arrested and convicted,” tweeted Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
“Today is #BreonnaTaylor’s birthday. #SayHerName. Think of and pray for those closest to her. Dedicate time to work for #JusticeforBreonnaTaylor,” tweeted Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and CEO of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
King also encouraged supporters to share the flyer listing officials to contact, including Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. John Yarmuth.
Another campaign for Taylor using the #BirthdayforBreonna hashtag encourages supporters to sign the online petition calling for action in Taylor’s case, donate to the online fundraiser for Taylor’s family, mail a birthday card or letter to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron demanding charges for the officers and donate to the Louisville Community Bail Fund to support protesters in the city where Taylor was killed.
Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, spoke about her daughter in an interview with Good Morning America on the morning of Taylor’s birthday.
“Breonna was just full of life; she loved life. She’d light up a room,” Palmer said in the interview. “In that brief moment, when people forgot about her for two months at a time – people need to know that Breonna Taylor mattered, and Breonna Taylor was great.”