LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A large group of demonstrators gathered on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the death of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot in her apartment by police officers executing a no-knock search warrant.
“All eyes are on Louisville today,” Bianca Austin, Taylor’s aunt, told the crowd. “And we are here to represent Breonna with dignity and respect.”
Taylor’s death and name continue to energize a racial justice movement and calls for police reform in Louisville and elsewhere.
President Joe Biden acknowledged the anniversary Saturday afternoon, saying he remains “committed to signing a landmark reform bill into law.”
In a post on Twitter, he wrote: “Breonna Taylor’s death was a tragedy, a blow to her family, her community, and America. As we continue to mourn her, we must press ahead to pass meaningful police reform in Congress.”
Sisters Michelle and Ashley Monterrosa, who traveled from California to Kentucky for the annivesary, said they understand the Taylor family’s pain.
“We are here to show support for Taylor’s family, while also honoring the loss of our brother Sean who was killed by the police,” Michelle Monterrosa, 25, said as she fought back tears.
Ashley Monterrosa, 20, added: “We’re tired of the criminal justice system failing us. This is a movement, not a moment, and we must stand strong.”
Taylor, an emergency room technician, was with boyfriend Kenneth Walker when plainclothes officers entered her apartment in the early morning hours of March 13 of last year to serve a no-knock search warrant in a drug case.
Walker, who had a license to carry a weapon, called 911 believing the raid was a home invasion and opened fire, wounding one of the officers in the leg.
Police then returned fire, and Taylor was killed. She was 26.
Taylor’s home was raided in a narcotics investigation of her former boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover. Her family has said Glover lived in a different part of the city and was already in police custody when Taylor’s home was raided.
The deaths of Taylor in Louisville and of George Floyd while he was in Minneapolis police custody, and the initial decisions not to charge the individuals involved in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, Georgia, fueled a summer of international protests against systemic racism.
Despite the outcry against Taylor’s shooting, no charges were brought in direct connection with Taylor’s death.
“I will never understand the unimaginable grief of Tamika Palmer and other family and loved ones, but I am committed to listening and working with others to build a more equitable and fair commonwealth for every Kentuckian,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said on Twitter that Taylor’s death was a “horrible tragedy” and “the loss to her family, friends, and our city is still palpable.”
“Her death resonates still in our city and around the world, underscoring the need to reform systems and act more urgently to advance racial justice and equity,” Fischer said.
Shameka Parrish-Wright, co-chair of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and manager of the Louisville Bail Project, said the city of Louisville has made some progress by rolling out Breonna’s Law, which bans no-knock warrants, but encouraged the state to do the same.
“No-knock warrants aren’t just a Louisville issue,” she said. “It’s a statewide problem. We must protect Black lives.”
Carmen Jones, 24, a Louisville resident, said the city is “showing resistance and strength” on the anniversary of Taylor’s death.
“Breonna Taylor isn’t going anywhere,” she said. “And we won’t stop saying her name.”