Bearing protest signs, some worn from months of demonstrations, community members gathered at Franklin Park Wednesday evening for a moment of silence and an hour of voices calling for justice for Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical worker in Kentucky fatally shot by police in March.
“At some point I need white folks to get upset as Black folks,” Monica Cannon-Grant, organizer of the rally and founder of the antiviolence organization Violence in Boston, told the multiracial crowd of about 75. The modest gathering stood in contrast to the larger demonstrations over the summer, including a march that Cannon-Grant organized in June that drew tens of thousands.
They gathered to chant Taylor’s name hours after it was announced that a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for her killing, which happened while officers executed a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation.
Prosecutors said that two officers who fired their weapons at Taylor were justified in using force to protect themselves.
The grand jury instead charged fired Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into Taylor’s neighbors' homes during the raid. The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law.
Cannon-Grant told reporters the country needs to “stop waiting for Black women to become hashtags before you protect them. Yesterday we protested outside the Boston Police Department, and it was maybe 25, 30 people. When we protest Black men dying, there’s an influx.”
“Black women are dying at the hands of police,” Cannon-Grant said later. "Black women are dying in health care. Black women are dying in education. We’re dying across the board. And we’re basically saying, ‘Stop killing us.’ "
“Waking up Black is exhausting right now,” Cannon-Grant said, as she reflected on a summer of activism and frustration over the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police. Cannon-Grant said that since becoming prominent as the leader of local protests, she has received hundreds of death threats from white supremacists.
Candice Woodson said in an interview that she is frustrated by “seeing no justice served for Breonna Taylor, who was a front-line worker during the pandemic … minding her own business.”
Woodson, 39, of Dorchester, said she personally “has called the police for help and then was assaulted by them.”
“I will be out here fighting for my life and for our lives until we get some sort of equality,” she said. “Black and brown people, LGBTQ, children, everybody — until there is equality across the board, and white people stop running this country, yeah, I’ll be out here fighting.”
Ashawn Dabney-Small, 18, of Dorchester, who is running for Boston City Council, said too many people say they support racial justice but don’t take action.
"Someone can say to me, ‘I do support Black Lives Matter. I put it on my Twitter,’ " Dabney-Small said. “Like, where are you? Are you here? Are you with us?”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.