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Breonna Taylor verdict adds to turnout in weekly protest

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

A surge in frustration and anger adds momentum to an ongoing protest of police violence and poor accountability.

By Solomon Smith, Political News Editor

Jesus Romero Garcia (center) father of Jesse J. Romero raises a fist in solidarity. (Photo by Solomon Smith/The Valley Star)

Black Lives Matter’s weekly protest in Downtown Los Angeles swelled to hundreds Wednesday by an influx of outraged protesters responding to the charges in the Breonna Taylor decision.

The organization has been protesting District Attorney Jackie Lacey every Wednesday at 3 p.m. since 2018 in front of the Los Angeles Hall of Justice, but the Taylor announcement motivated a larger turn out. Taylor, a 26-year old emergency medical technician, was killed in March during a no-knock warrant raid of her home in Louisville, Kentucky. One officer was shot in the leg by Taylor’s boyfriend who thought the apartment was being invaded.

The shooting was deemed justified by the Louisville Metro Police Department, according to the Washington Post. Police fired 20 rounds, hitting Taylor six times. Only officer Brett Hankinson was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment and fired. The charges were for rounds that went into the homes of Taylor’s neighbors, not Taylor’s death.

“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by [Sgt. Jonathan] Mattingly and [Detective Myles] Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,” said Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Ms. Breonna Taylor’s death.”

Taylor’s name, along with other victims across the country, has been on the lips of Black Lives Matter protesters before the verdict. Sheila Hines-Brim is the aunt of Waikesha Wilson, whose alleged suicide in the LAPD jail she and others disputed.

“I feel like we did not do enough for Breonna,” said Hines-Brim. “This is personal to me.”

Deaf members of Black Loves Matter watch speakers as they take turns translating into American Sign Language. (Photo by Solomon Smith/The Valley Star)

Both Taylor and Wilson’s deaths were among a litany of others commemorated on a scroll stretching across North Spring Street. It displayed handwritten names of those killed by police officers who remain uncharged by Lacey’s office.

Derrick Nixon’s brother, Gemmell Moore, was drugged by Ed Buck and died in his home, according to the Guardian. Buck was later arrested for drugging and raping several young gay men. Lacey’s initial refusal to charge the wealthy Democratic donor is listed as one of her “seven deadly sins” on the Black Lives Matter website.

“The sheriffs refused to give him [Buck] a thorough investigation or even put him in handcuffs,” said Nixon. “Jackie Lacey has played a role in upholding white supremacy.”

Helen Jones, mother of John Horton who was shot on March 30, 2009, by sheriffs, and others pointed out the lack of answers as evidence that police have “a secret platform that fights for them.” For many of these families, the wait has been unbearable.

“I [have] been trying to get justice for 11 years now,” said Jones, “and we got to shut it down.”

Frustration has not dampened the resolve of those who spoke on stage or the protesters. Their anger brings many of them to the steps of the Los Angeles Halls of Justice every week. Cammy Hicks had been attending the Lacey protest almost every week. She says that she focuses on adding her voice so that the victims, and their families, are heard.

“The mainstream media don’t listen to the families we talk about,” said Hicks, “but we do, we have to.”

This story has been updated.

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