They raised their voices in anger, pain and poetry, speaking words of protest and calling for action in the wake of a Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to charge any Louisville police officers for the death of Breonna Taylor.
One after another, Black women representing Bay Area community organizing groups weighed in Thursday morning during a rally in front of an Oakland mural honoring Taylor at 15th and Broadway.
“Breonna Taylor did not die in a vacuum. She died inside of a paradigm in this country where the lives of Black women and girls do not matter,” said Cat Brooks, one of the event’s organizers and co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project.
“I want to be really clear that what happened to Breonna Taylor was part and parcel and pattern of the war that is daily waged on our lives and we’ve got to start talking about it.”
Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times by officers who entered her Louisville home on a "no-knock" warrant as part of a botched drug raid in March. The warrant used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside.
On Wednesday, grand jurors brought only one indictment against an officer for the reckless use of a gun. Brett Hankison, who has since been dismissed from the force, was charged with three counts of "wanton endangerment" for firing into Taylor’s neighbors’ apartment.
The two other officers whose bullets hit Taylor were not charged at all.
Protests began erupting across the country immediately, and in the Bay Area, lawmakers and community leaders called the grand jury’s decision “deeply wrong,” “devastating” and the result of structural racism in the criminal justice system.
“I didn't bring poetry for you. I brought the truth,” Ayodele Nzinga, executive director of Black performing arts group The Lower Bottom Playaz, told a crowd of approximately 150 people.
“There's a war going on. There's a war on Black bodies. There's a war on truth in a country that refuses to recognize that this country sits on a foundation of white hubris and white supremacy and extractive capitalism. That’s good for nobody, not even white people.”