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Breonna Taylor: the viral chain tweet we need to pay attention to

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Kayleigh Dray
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In an aerial view from a drone, a large-scale ground mural depicting Breonna Taylor with the text 'Black Lives Matter' is seen being painted at Chambers Park in Annapolis, Maryland. The mural was organized by Future History Now in partnership with Banneker-Douglass Museum and The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.

You will almost definitely have seen this viral post in your Twitter feed. Please do not ignore it. 

Lin-Manuel Miranda has shared it. Daveed Diggs has shared it. And thousands upon thousands of social media users have shared it, too.

Breonna Taylor’s name is no longer trending and the police that murdered her are still free,” reads the viral chain message, which is steadily spreading across Twitter.

“Arrest Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly, and Myles Cosgrove for the murder of Breonna Taylor.”

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Taylor, just 26 at the age of her death, was shot and killed by police during a drug raid on her Louisville, Kentucky home on 13 March. The officers were investigating two people suspected of selling drugs, neither of whom was Taylor. They had been granted a “no-knock” warrant (something the Louisville Metro Council has since voted unanimously to ban) by a judge, which allowed them to enter Taylor’s apartment without announcing themselves, and they also weren’t wearing body cams.

Taylor and her partner, Kenneth Walker, were reportedly asleep when officers entered their home using a battering ram. Licensed gun owner Walker – who called 911 for assistance – has said he fired one shot as police entered, hitting Mattingly in the leg, believing them to be armed intruders.

A portrait of Breonna Taylor is pasted to a building on 25 June 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A portrait of Breonna Taylor is pasted to a building on 25 June 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Officers Hankison, Mattingly, and Cosgrove – who fired over 25 bullets – said they returned fire after one officer was shot and wounded.

During the exchange, Taylor was shot eight times. She died on her hallway floor.

As per the lawsuit filed by her family, no drugs were found at the property.

A marker for Breonna Taylor sits in the Say Their Names Cemetery during a candle light vigil on June 07, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. People came to honor those who have lost their lives to police brutality. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
A marker for Breonna Taylor sits in the Say Their Names Cemetery during a candlelit vigil on June 07, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. People came to honor those who have lost their lives to police brutality.

To date, Hankison is the only one of the officers involved who has been fired from his position in the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD).

As per the Courier-Journal, Robert Schroeder, the LMPD’s interim chief, accused Hankison of “blindly” firing 10 rounds into Taylor’s apartment, creating a substantial danger of death and serious injury.

“I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” he wrote in a letter to Hankison, laying out the charges against him. “I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion.”

“The result of your action seriously impedes the Department’s goal of providing the citizens of our city with the most professional law enforcement agency possible. I cannot tolerate this type of conduct by any member of the Louisville Metro Police Department,” he added. 

“Your conduct demands your termination.”

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No disciplinary action has been taken against the other two officers, Cosgrove and Mattingly, but they have been reassigned to administrative duties pending the investigation. A fourth officer, Joshua Jaynes, who sought the no-knock warrant, has also been reassigned pending investigation. 

The attorneys representing Taylor’s family have since pushed for investigators to prosecute Hankison and the other two officers.

“Today’s announcement makes it clear, as we have always maintained, that the city had the power to fire the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s murder. We look forward to them terminating the other officers involved in Bre’s murder,” the attorneys said in a statement, as per ABC News.

“We also look forward to these officers being prosecuted for their roles in her untimely death.”

Taylor’s death, much like the killing of George Floyd, has sparked protests across the USA, prompting lawmakers to pass Breonna’s Law. 

In addition to barring the execution of warrants without knocking, Breonna’s Law also sets new guidelines for other types of search warrants, according to The New York Times. It requires that police officers have their body cameras on when conducting a search, and sets a minimum time period before and after the operation that the cameras must remain active.

Civil rights activists, though, believe that more must be done. Demanding justice, they have called for Hankison, Mattingly, and Cosgrove to be arrested for Taylor’s murder.

“Your office has both the power and the responsibility to bring justice to Breonna Taylor, and demonstrate the value of a black woman’s life,” writes Beyoncé in a powerful open letter

“Don’t let this case fall into the pattern of no action after a terrible tragedy. With every death of a black person at the hands of the police, there are two real tragedies: the death itself, and the inaction and delays that follow it. This is your chance to end that pattern. Take swift and decisive action in charging the officers.”

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How you can help demand justice for Breonna Taylor

Sign the petition

Sign the change.org petition, which calls for charges to be filed immediately against the officers involved, here.

Donate to Breonna Taylor’s family

There has been a GoFundMe set up to benefit Taylor’s family, who are “missing out on some work (and sleep) in this fight for justice.” 

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Main image: in an aerial view from a drone, a large-scale ground mural depicting Breonna Taylor with the text ‘Black Lives Matter’ is seen being painted at Chambers Park in Annapolis, Maryland. The mural was organised by Future History Now in partnership with Banneker-Douglass Museum and The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. 

Images: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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