Judith George/Contributing Writer
A message has been spreading across social media like wildfire. Affecting everyone, from everyday people to athletes and celebrities. The spark that started that fire? The sentence that has been given to the police involved in the death Breonna Taylor.
On September 23, 2020, the police officers who raided her home, shot her five times and left her for dead, pleaded not guilty for her murder. The only charge that held any real weight against the police was property damage from Breonna’s neighbor. Something that could always be replaced held more value over the life of a young black woman with dreams and aspirations.
It’s been over 200 days since Breonna Taylor passed on March 13. Despite all days of us saying her name, days of trying to keep her memory alive while people tried to push for normalcy, and days for demanding justice for her untimely death; she still didn’t get the justice she deserved. Upon hearing this news, I felt a number of emotions—disgust, anger and sadness, just to name a few. But the emotion that trumps them all?
I wish I could say I put more hope into the idea that Breonna Taylor would get the justice she deserved. That there would be a chance that we could actually see a change in America. But I would be lying to myself, and I’m sure a lot of other people who share my skin color share similar sentiments about this situation.
We live in a country that our ancestors built from the ground up, when the vast majority were stolen from their motherland. Where they were denied true freedom when they helped fight for liberty, the main thing America is known for. Where we were seen as less than human, even considered “three-fifths of a person,” so southern states can get more representation. There are so many black people who have contributed to a country that will never truly love, care or protect us. Just look at the Breonna Taylor case, where all that’s been done was done to avoid the biggest thing that needed to be done.
I’ll be the first to say that literally nobody asked for an act in her name that prohibits law enforcement from carrying out a warrant without them stating their presence and purpose before entering someone’s home. The idea was “nice” and all, but we asked for justice. Justice for a 26-year-old woman who worked in the medical field and had the aspiration to become an EMT. Justice for a woman who never got to see her upcoming 27th birthday. Justice for a black woman who had her life wrongfully stolen from her by police officers.
The system couldn’t even give her that. Despite obvious holes in the story that would give the impression that Breonna “had it coming,” she was not involved in any illegal drug dealings with her ex-boyfriend, whom the family lawyer states she cut ties with before her death. Her boyfriend did fire his legal firearm after the front door was taken down by a battering ram, with him under the assumption that someone was breaking into the apartment. The law enforcement already had the suspect in custody that same night, just several miles away from Breonna’s home. She was a victim of a crime that will be justified in any court in America.
What makes this even more sad, is she that isn’t the first person the system has failed.
Just 65 years prior, on September 23, 1955, Emmett Till’s murderers were not charged. A 14-year-old African American who was taken from his great uncle’s home by Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam was found at the bottom of Tallahatchie River just three days later. He was deemed almost unrecognizable, if it weren’t for an initialed ring that his uncle identified as his. His killers were proclaimed not guilty for killing Emmett Till, nor were they indicted for kidnapping him. Two different people with different cases, but look how similar they were in the end.
65 years to the day, both Breonna and Emmet’s stories were changed so that it would benefit their killers, making it seem like the victims put themselves in a situation that led to their demise. Both were laid to rest way before their time. Both were used as a rallying cry for justice for black people. Neither of them got the justice they deserved.
We’re supposed to learn from history so we can do better and prevent situations like Emmett’s from happening again, but clearly we didn’t. Just like the system failed Emmett Till, it failed Breonna Taylor as well.
We’re sorry, Emmett Till and most importantly, we’re sorry Breonna Taylor.
Now more than ever, we need to do better as a country. We can’t have a famous document that proclaims “all men are created equal” when we can’t even put that into practice in today’s day and age.
Rest in Peace to a black brother and sister.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Featured image by Annette Bernhardt on Flickr.