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‘This isn’t justice’: Local politicians react to Breonna Taylor case

People gathered in Jefferson Square awaiting word on charges against police officers, Wednesday, in Louisville, Ky.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

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.

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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.”

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.”

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.”

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“It’s time to vote for transformative change,” Warren wrote in a tweet, calling the outcome of the case “a disgrace.”

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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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.