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A demonstrator holds a sign with the image of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers, during a protest against racial injustice and the death George Floyd in Minneapolis, in Denver, Colorado on June 3, 2020. (Photo: Jason Connolly / AFP via Getty Images)

#SayHerName: On Breonna Taylor's 27th Birthday, Advocates Demand Justice in Shooting Death by Louisville Police

"We won't stop fighting until justice is served."

Julia Conley

Racial justice advocates are demanding the three Louisville police officers who shot Breonna Taylor to death in March be fired immediately and criminally charged for her murder.

Friday would have been Taylor's 27th birthday. Along with the killings of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police officers and Ahmaud Arbery by a former officer in Georgia, her death has been a catalyst for nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality over the past two weeks. 

Advocates urged the public not to forget Taylor, who was killed March 13—the same day President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency. Taylor's family has said media attention on the case has been scant, partially due to the pandemic and corresponding economic crisis. 

"Our hearts and minds are big enough to hold and fight for ALL of our slain sisters and brothers," tweeted organizer Tamika D. Mallory. "Happy Birthday, Breonna Taylor. We have not forgotten you."

Taylor, who was an E.M.T., was shot at least eight times after Officers John Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove forcibly entered her apartment to execute a search warrant. The officers were reportedly looking for two men they believed were selling drugs in another home and had received a warrant for Taylor's apartment because they believed one of the suspects had received packages there.

The family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department, saying the police had no reason to enter Taylor's apartment in the middle of the night and "spray gunfire into the residence with a total disregard for the value of human life."

The FBI announced May 21 that it was opening an investigation into Taylor's case, but the three officers involved have yet to be charged with a crime and are still on administrative leave.

More than three million people have signed a petition at Change.org to demand justice for Taylor, and advocates urged supporters to call for full accountability for her killing. Cate Young, a writer and cultural critic, set up a virtual memorial Friday featuring 10 actions supporters can take, including:

  • Donating directly to Taylor's family;
  • Sending a birthday card for Breonna to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, demanding charges for the three officers;
  • Posting about Taylor's case on social media using the hashtags #SayHerName and #BirthdayForBreonna; and
  • Donating to the Louisville Community Bail Fund to support protesters who are demonstrating in Taylor's name.

Influential social justice advocates joined the viral campaign and offered more ideas for those who want to help Taylor's family.

"We want justice for Breonna Taylor. The continuum of justice includes charging the officers who shot her eight times. Where is the action on this?" tweeted activist Bernice King, addressing the question to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, and the Louisville police.


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