'Say Her name: Breonna Taylor"

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

By Bertram Keller for the LA Sentinel

Say her name! BREONNA TAYLOR! Say her name! BREONNA TAYLOR! Say her name! BREONNA TAYLOR!

Saturday, June 20, 2020, the weekend of Juneteenth; however, there was no music, and no family picnics. Instead, there was the chanting of protestors that echoed throughout the neighborhoods of Leimert Park and Inglewood.

Women of the non-profit organization Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), co-organized Saturday’s rally to elevate the powerful voices calling for justice. Notable speakers in attendance included: female labor and religious leaders, California State Assembly member Sydney Kamlager, California State Senator Holly Mitchell, accomplished actress, LisaRaye McCoy and pro football Hall of Famer, Terrell Owens.

It has been three months since Breonna Taylor was brutally murdered in the comfort of her own home. Two of three officers involved— Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove—have been placed on administrative leave, but still remain on the police force. LMPD recently fired Brett Hankison, whom was the third officer involved.  The three officers dressed in plain clothes and used a battering ram to break into Breonna Taylor’s apartment. The malpractice of LMPD led to an innocent woman wrongfully shot eight times.

The malpractice of protocol reveals itself in the police report. In the Louisville Courier-Journal, the report shows Taylor’s name, a case number, and the date and time of the shooting. However, reports did exclude some significant details, such as her date of birth, distinct injuries, and in the section of “forced entry,” it was marked as a “no,” despite the use of a battering ram to break in.

On Saturday, a predominantly small group of women wearing pink t-shirts, gathered outside the Fernando Pullum Community Art Center in Leimert Park. The group consisted of mostly women, many men and some very enthusiastic little kids. Protestors, spectators and speakers all were given Breonna Taylor mementos free of charge while a few others were configuring the microphone and speaker sitting on the flatbed of an old stake bed truck. An immense red banner raised high in plain sight; the banner read: ‘What About Breonna Taylor?’ written in black spray paint.

During the rally, State Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager stated, “It is important that we say their names and that we know their stories. These Black women could be our nieces, our sisters, our daughters, our mothers; they could be us.” Assemblymember Kamlager discussed the importance of bill(s) AB-1950 and AB-2054, in which she claims “AB-1950 limits probation terms for those with felonies and those with misdemeanors. Because we know our Black men and women are tethered to a carceral system. That not only includes police but probation, parole, prison, jail … given longer terms and higher fines. Forty-percent more than any other race.”

Moments later, California State Senator Holly Mitchell delivered an uplifting speech while she wore a black and white ‘Crenshaw’ mask from The Marathon—from the late Nipsey Hussle’s clothing store.

Senator Mitchell declared, “Change is here! This moment in history is about police accountability but that’s not all. It’s about educational equity, it’s about economic equity, it’s about access to housing equity. So, we are going to use this moment in time to take full advantage to talk about the reality of Juneteenth and one hundred and fifty-five years of ongoing oppression. We are going to redefine what freedom really means. Freedom from redlining, freedom from health disparities compared to other groups. For Black women, freedom from pay inequity, where we make pennies on the dollar compared to our White female counterparts and men.”

Sen. Mitchell mentioned the importance of voting as any American citizen should. She said. “We are standing up in a more profound way—carrying bills on affirmative action; we are going to reverse [Proposition] 209. We are going to get that to the ballot November. So, you all can vote on it; we have a bill on reparations to create a task force to talk about reparations. We have a bill ACA-6 to restore voting rights for all those who were incarcerated. We have a bill to require ethnic studies in high school, and make it a graduation requirement.”

The speeches and sermons concluded; the modestly large group was in an uplifted mood. Some of the guest speakers and the modestly large group of spectators marched around the block while gripping the red banner which read: ‘What About Breonna Taylor?’ All were collectively chanting “Say her name! Breonna Taylor!” then repeated the chanting of “Say her name!” “Breonna Taylor!”

Following the Leimert Park rally, SCLC organizers and religious leaders gathered at The Great Western Forum, along Kareem Court in Inglewood. The speakers and religious leaders were all standing on top the same old stake bed truck.

Owens gave a great unrehearsed speech, “I’m here because Black Lives Matter! My grandmother taught me about segregation; I didn’t know what it was, but I know what it means now… the police have the ability to serve and protect; yet, just like the constitution has failed us, the [police] have failed us.” Owens continued, “We have people in positions of power to make change … You have to strike while the iron is hot; well right now that iron is hot!” Owens concluded his speech with “Say her name!” The crowd responded, ‘Breonna Taylor!’ He repeated, “Say her name!” even louder, the group cheered for ‘Breonna Taylor!’

No matter if you are Black, White, Red, or Brown, the country demands truth. Throughout the rally, leaders from diverse backgrounds came together to voice their skepticism of our nation’s justice system, with Breonna Taylor’s death being an example of that. A wise person once said, “Ignorance is a luxury we cannot afford,” thanks to social media, the country is made aware of the continued injustice on several accounts. Yet, time and time again, there remains no immediate change or accountability when it comes to that dark cloud of discrimination. The call to action is now, right now! Say her name! BREONNA TAYLOR! Say her name! BREONNA TAYLOR! Say her name! BREONNA TAYLOR!