Correction: This story has been updated to correct a claim that stated Brett Hankinson was accused solely of Breonna Taylor’s muder. In an analysis by the Kentucky State Police, it was determined that there is no definite link from the bullets that hit Taylor to one specific officer at the scene of the crime, and the story has been corrected to reflect this conclusion.
“Black Lives Matter,” “No Justice No Peace,” “Racist Cops Have Got to Go”; these are some of the chants heard at BLM protests, and, once again, these chants were echoed by members of the Corvallis, Ore. community on Saturday at a gathering at the Corvallis Municipal Courthouse. Their message? They want justice for Breonna Taylor.
Taylor, an EMT, was shot six times while she was sleeping, on the night of March 13, when a no knock warrant was served during which, Louisville, Ky. police fired 32 shots into the apartment. Brett Hankison, Miles Cosgrove and John Mattingly were the three officers at the scene, with Hankinson standing outside of Taylor’s residence and the other two inside.
Last Wednesday, Hankison was acquitted of all charges directly related to Taylor’s death, and was only charged with wanton endangerment, for stray bullets which ended up hitting walls of neighboring apartments. This charge is where someone acts with “extreme indifference” to human life and causes a substantial danger, which in this case endangered Taylor’s neighbors.
"The Grand Jury determined that there is no evidence to support [that] a criminal violation of state law caused Ms. Taylor's death,” said Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s attorney general, during a press conference following the announcement. “The Grand Jury found that there was sufficient evidence to indict Detective Hankison for wanton endangerment for firing his weapon outside a sliding glass door and through a bedroom window."
“I’m so furious that there wasn’t an indictment on the officer that killed Breonna Taylor,” said Catherine Stearns, an attendee at the protest.
The acquittal sparked protests around the country, most notably in Louisville itself.
“It isn’t justice,” Autumn De La Cruz, an attendee at the protest said. “[We need] things to be put in place to make sure justice is served.”
This sentiment was echoed by many members of the crowd, which held up signs that read things like “All Black Lives Matter,” “White Silence = Violence,” “Media Exploitation ≠ Justice,” and “Billions spent protecting a country that kills its own people.”
Among these attendees, which ranged from Oregon State University students and community members was Corvallis City Councilman Charles Maughan, who held one side of a banner reading “Black Lives Matter.”
“There are great injustices in this country,” Maughan said, “People shouldn’t be murdered in their beds… We will be out here until these injustices are fixed.”
Those first at the protest remained near the courthouse, but as more rallied in support, the crowd spread to occupy both sides of Fourth Street in front of the courthouse, and expanded across Jackson Avenue towards Van Buren. Several vehicles showed their support by honking their horns while driving past the protestors.
The crowd continued to chant “say her name, Breonna Taylor,” as well as “say his name, George Floyd.”
Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minn. on June 25. His death renewed calls for police reform and police defundment and started what is one of the nation's longest social justice protests, led by the BLM organization.
“It’s unfair we live in a system where cops can kill, with little to no consequences” said Stella Harkness, a protest attendee.
Over the past few years, protests like this have become common after the deaths of several people of color at the hands of law enforcement. However, the Corvallis community has shown readiness to stand together.
“Everyone should be acting up and speaking out,” said protestor Stefan Rose. “It is important we stand up for the right thing when we can.”
The protest lasted about an hour and a half and wrapped up at about 7:30 p.m.
“I think demonstrations make a difference,” said Clara Eshaghpour, an attendee. “The more people decide to make a change within themselves, the bigger difference we make.”