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Breonna Taylor, saint or sinner, continues to divide the culture

Breonna Taylor

The New York Times released a video simulation and multiple reports recapping the shooting of Breonna Taylor by Louisville Metro Police Department officers last March.

It is compelling on many fronts and illustrates the tragedy of Taylor’s death juxtaposed with the challenges for law enforcement  safely serving warrants.

This latest N.Y. Times report offers a comprehensive recap but most people made up their minds about Breonna, Black Lives Matter, police, and the justice system months ago. The comments thread is filled with a tsunami of cop haters, conspiracy theorists, and those who believe Breonna made bad life choices.

Kenneth Walker and Breonna Taylor

Supporters of police and the thin blue line continue to point out that Breonna Taylor chose to act as a money runner for a Louisville drug cartel.  She made multiple visits to drug dealer Jamarcus Glover and his associates in jail, recorded on Metro Corrections phones talking to them about drug money whereabouts.

Downtown and Highlands area Louisville streets were filled protesters for months. Some turned violent with random shootings among the assembled throngs. Two LMPD officers were shot. Buildings were pillaged, looted, and burned. Some NuLu business owners were threatened with retaliation if they did not accept a list of hiring and financial demands by Black Lives Matter activists.

Demands placed on NuLu business owners (August 2020)

On an national pregame show, NBA Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal took lots of heat for saying that the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd was different from the LMPD Breonna Taylor shooting because Taylor’s boyfriend shot at the police first.

100% of responders agree that Breonna Taylor should not be dead. That’s the ultimate tragedy. But there is a sizable contingent of people who think Taylor was an unfortunate victim of choosing bad friends.

Breonna Taylor bust vandalized in Oakland (December 2020)

Now a bronze bust honoring Breonna Taylor in Oakland, California has been vandalized, a completely ironic act during a year where hundreds of statues were destroyed around the country.  Most were of Confederate related images but even statues of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln were trashed.

The artist who created the Breonna sculpture has started a GoFundMe to raise $5,000 to restore it. Some commenters on Twitter are not sympathetic.

So here we are at the end of 2020 with no real resolution in sight. BLM demands have been heard. Some police reforms have been put in place.

A group of Black leaders put together a plan called A Path Forward for Louisville. Its demands include a $50 million Black Community Fund, plus other offerings for Black people only. Free buildings, forgivable business loans, 100 free homes, and more.

“We are standing up against aggressive policing practices, abuse, an absence of transparency, and cover-ups that have plagued (LMPD) and eroded public trust. We demand investments in the education, health and safety of Black people, instead of investments in the criminalizing, caging, and harming of Black people.”

Black leaders will tell you that very few of these demands have been met, but that the Breonna Taylor awakening will keep the momentum rolling into 2021 and beyond.

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