In response to today’s announcement of only minor charges — “wanton endangerment” — for one of the Louisville police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor, The National Bar Association, the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges, issued the following statement:
“Not only was justice not served, the desultory and insufficient result we received today was also unacceptably slow in manifesting. It has been over six months since Breonna Taylor’s innocent life was senselessly taken at the hands of careless, negligent, and indifferent law enforcement officials sworn to protect and serve her.
“As officers of the court that take our oaths and hold our bar licenses in high regard, we urge our families and friends of color around us to place faith in the justice system within which we work, pointing out that the system needs our participation if it is ever going to bring forth the results we deem to be just. However, when headline after headline consistently supports the theory we so desperately want to disprove, it’s beginning to become more and more difficult to make the case that black lives matter to anyone but us.
“Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s vow to ‘vigorously prosecute’ Brett Hankison, the sole Louisville police officer criminally charged with three counts of wanton endangerment of the first degree as a result of Taylor’s death, falls on deaf and enraged ears. Breonna was a completely innocent woman, sleeping in her own home when she was killed by Louisville police attempting a no knock search warrant. How much clearer do the facts have to be for public officials on the ground to take appropriate and just action without public unrest and protest! While we will certainly continue to use our voices, admittedly it is frustrating that it is even necessary given how egregious and outrageous these facts are.
“NBA Vice President for Regions and Affiliates, Lonita Baker, is lead counsel representing Breonna Taylor’s family and was quoted today stating, ‘This is the most absurd legal maneuvering that I have ever seen. If his [Ex-Officer Brett Hankison] behavior was wanton to those in neighboring apartments it was likewise wanton to Breonna and Kenny. He should have been charged with wanton murder and another count of wanton endangerment. To add insult to injury, an indictment for wanton endangerment was returned for Breonna’s white neighbors but none for her black neighbors that also had gunshots from the police entering their home. This is another example of the devaluing of black lives.’
“We stand in solidarity with Lonita, her co-counsel NBA Past President Ben Crump, their legal team, and Breonna’s family, and pledge the support of the National Bar Association in an effort to bring about honorable justice for Breonna and her family. May our precious Angel Breonna continue to Rest in Peace.
Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann also issued a statement:
“Nothing about today’s decision changes what we all know: Breonna Taylor was murdered. The declared state of emergency in Louisville confirms the seriousness of this reckless, systemic, state-sanctioned violence against Black folks and Black women in particular. The state attorney general’s decision to not file charges against any of the six police officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department for the killing of Ms. Taylor only serves to perpetuate the ongoing wave of domestic terrorism against Black men and women. This domestic terrorism will not stop until we demand that it stop.
“The timing of this decision, coming right after the historic $12 million settlement announcement with Breonna Taylor’s family, will not silence our voices or dampen the community’s demand for justice. It is both baffling and frustrating that settlement payouts for police misconduct and racial killings are funded by public tax dollars. In the end, the communities are bailing out the police department with their own dollars while also being on the receiving end of the police brutality. The law enforcement system is broken. This is not justice. This is not equity.
“In the words of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party who spoke in 1969, ‘We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We are going to fight racism with solidarity.’ The fight for justice is much bigger than a handful of individual cops: It’s about the ingrained racism in a system that uses outrageous tactics like no-knock warrants and bullets disproportionately against Black and Brown people. Our response will be peaceful, but we will not be silent and we will maintain a sustained collective effort to end the oppression.”