Anger boiling on US streets over not charging Black woman's police killers

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Anger, frustration and sadness over the decision not to charge Kentucky police officers for Breonna Taylor’s death poured into America’s streets as protesters lashed out at a criminal justice system they say is stacked against Black people. Violence seized the demonstrations in her hometown of Louisville as gunfire rang out and wounded two police officers.

Activists, celebrities and everyday Americans have been calling for charges since Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by white officers who entered her home during a narcotics investigation in March. While the officers had a no-knock warrant, the investigation showed they announced themselves before entering, said state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican and the state’s first Black top prosecutor.

A grand jury returned three charges of wanton endangerment Wednesday against fired Officer Brett Hankison over shooting into a home next to Taylor’s with people inside.

Hundreds of demonstrators chanted Taylor’s name and marched in cities like New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Las Vegas. People gathered in downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park, chanting demands for justice as passing drivers on Michigan Avenue honked their horns. Authorities unleashed chemical agents on some protesters after they tried to climb on a SWAT vehicle in Atlanta and others were arrested.

While protests in Louisville had been largely peaceful, scuffles broke out between police and protesters and some people were arrested before the two officers were shot while investigating reports of gunfire Wednesday night.

Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder said a suspect was in custody but did not offer details about whether that person was participating in the protests. He says both officers are expected to recover, and one was undergoing surgery.

Taylor’s case has exposed the wide gulf between public opinion on justice for those who kill Black Americans and the laws under which those officers are charged, which regularly favor police and do not often result in steep criminal accusations.

Carmen Jones has protested in downtown Louisville every day for nearly three months. She said she felt despair after the grand jury’s decision and didn’t know what was next.

“We’re tired of being hashtags. We’re tired of paying for history in our blood and our bodies and being told to respond to this violence and aggression with peace,” she said. “We did it the Martin way for the entire summer, and it got us nowhere. Maybe it’s time to do things the Malcolm way.”

Jones said her remaining hope was that their demonstration would cause systemwide change in the U.S. But the decision in Taylor’s case made her feel like her life doesn’t matter in America.

“I don’t think I’ll sleep the same ever again, cause it would happen to any of us” she said. “The system does not care about Black people. The system chews Black people up and spits us out.”-AP