A Kentucky grand jury declined to bring charges against Louisville police for the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor on Wednesday afternoon, causing Massachusetts politicians to react with both despair and outrage.
Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was killed during a drug raid gone wrong in March — shot multiple times by officers who entered her home on a no-knock warrant. But prosecutors said police were justified in their use of force that night.
Only one officer was charged in the case, but not for the death of Taylor. Fired Officer Brett Hankison was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into neighboring apartments.
Both the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and the death of Taylor at the hands of police became major rallying points this past summer, with tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets nationwide to call for an end to police brutality and systemic racism — including in Boston.
The reaction to the grand jury’s decision was equally swift by local politicians on Wednesday, with Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Ayanna Pressley both calling the verdict an “injustice” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeting, “[W]e need to fundamentally remake a criminal justice system that endangers Black lives with impunity.”
Today, the edges of this most recent shard of injustice are especially sharp.— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) September 23, 2020
I am gutted. I am heartbroken.
Breonna, you saved lives, and yet, yours was brutally taken.
I am not resigned to this outcome, I am resolved. We won’t rest. This isn’t over. pic.twitter.com/L6q3B6AUYk
Pressley said she was both “heartbroken” and “gutted” by the decision to not charge the officers involved, adding that “the edges of this most recent injustice are especially sharp.”
“Breonna, you saved lives, and yet, yours was brutally taken,” Pressley said in a tweet. “I am not resigned to this outcome, I am resolved. We won’t rest. This isn’t over.”
2 of the 3 officers who ended Breonna Taylor’s life will face no charges. 1 might get a slap on the wrist. The justice system is beyond broken – for Black people it never worked in the first place. It’s time to vote for transformative change. #SayHerName https://t.co/H1GJI7aAt5— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) September 23, 2020
Breonna Taylor should be alive today.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 23, 2020
This decision is a disgrace.
We need accountability for the officers who killed Breonna. And we need to fundamentally remake a criminal justice system that endangers Black lives with impunity. https://t.co/RDScRCNB9O
Warren said on Twitter the “justice system is beyond broken — for Black people it never worked in the first place,” after highlighting the fact that of the three officers involved in the raid, only one “might get a slap on the wrist.”
“It’s time to vote for transformative change,” Warren wrote in a tweet, calling the outcome of the case “a disgrace.”
Black lives will not matter until we hold police accountable for Black deaths, invest more in our communities than in criminalization, and dismantle the structures of racial oppression in our country and ensure all people are truly equal in the eyes of the law.— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) September 23, 2020
The police murdered Breonna Taylor. No one was charged with murder. This is an intentional insult to those fighting for change, the Black Lives Matter movement and, most importantly, Breonna. We cannot and will not stop fighting for justice.— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) September 23, 2020
Sen. Ed Markey said the decision to not charge any officers in the death of Taylor marked an “intentional assault to those fighting for change, the Black Lives Matter movement and, most importantly, Breonna.”
In a series of tweets, Markey called for systemic action to “ensure all people are truly equal in the eyes of the law.”
“Black lives will not matter until we hold police accountable for Black deaths, invest more in our communities than in criminalization, and dismantle the structures of racial oppression in our country,” Markey said in a tweet.
"Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime."— Katherine Clark (@RepKClark) September 23, 2020
- John Robert Lewis
Rep. Katherine Clark quoted civil rights icon John Lewis in a tweet, in which the late congressman urged citizens to not despair but “be hopeful, be optimistic.”
“This isn’t justice,” Clark said. “Not even close.”
There can be no justice without systemic change.— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) September 23, 2020
Breonna Taylor deserved better.
In her name, our fight continues.
Rep. Joe Kennedy III reacted to the decision to not charge officers in Taylor’s death by saying there “is not justice in an unjust system.” He, too, called for structural change.
“Breonna Taylor deserved better,” Kennedy said in tweet. “In her name, our fight continues.”
My thoughts and prayers are with Breonna’s family, the people of Kentucky, and every person across our country—and right here in Boston—who is experiencing pain right now. There has to be more transparency when incidents like this occur. Justice is demanded.— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) September 23, 2020
In Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Taylor had her entire life ahead of her before it was taken away, and that he stands with those demanding justice.
Walsh said when incidents like the case of Taylor occur, “more transparency” is needed and justice “demanded.”
“We must demand justice for every precious Black life cut short by systemic racism in our country,” Walsh said in a tweet. “My thoughts and prayers are with Breonna’s family, the people of Kentucky, and every person across our country — and right here in Boston — who is experiencing pain right now.”
We have an opportunity in Boston to establish systems like a Civilian Review Board, that will proactively collect and publish policing data and recommend changes to policies and practices so we can reduce the profound racial disparities in our policing.https://t.co/Mb6QRyyvcC— Andrea J. Campbell (@CampbellforD4) September 23, 2020
In response to the decision, City Councilor Andrea Campbell said she did not want to hear claims that Boston “is any different” than Louisville — or what happened there.
Rather, Campbell said in a tweet, she wants “to hear that we will take immediate action to create true accountability & transparency in policing that CONFIRM we’re better than that.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.