On Wednesday, a Kentucky grand jury brought no direct charges against three Louisville police officers for the killing of Breonna Taylor in her home on March 13. One of the officers, Brett Hankison, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment, none of which hinge on Taylor’s death. After a summer of protests over police brutality and systemic racism, the outcome of Taylor’s case ignited fresh outrage across the country.
In Los Angeles, the local chapter of Black Lives Matter held an event in Breonna Taylor’s name outside downtown’s “Hall of (In)Justice,” as they call it. For nearly three years, BLM-L.A. has been holding weekly events here calling for the resignation of Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who’s frequently been criticized by activists for her reluctance to press charges against police officers who’ve injured or killed civilians. Wednesday’s demonstration, however, which included a speaker series followed by a march, took on added meaning for the several hundred people gathered. As speakers addressed the crowd, they called for the resignation of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron while demonstrators held signs reading “Justice For Breonna” and “Defund The Police.”
For Sandy Hudson, founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto and a speaker at the downtown event, the failure to directly charge any of the officers with Breonna Taylor killing is just one more example of how the system “encourages and allows police to engage this way with black people.” Hudson told Los Angeles that “an indictment isn’t a punishment, it’s saying that this situation is worth investigation into.” She also cited the August 31 killing of Dijon Kizzee, who was reportedly shot at least 15 times by L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies during a stop for a purported traffic violation, and explained that “there’s a sense of deep despair” watching the Taylor case “that something very similar is going to happen” with Kizzee’s case.
“This is what we’re used to all the time—police officers not being held accountable,” said Helen Jones, whose son John Horton died in 2009 while being held at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown L.A. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department claims Horton’s death was a suicide, but Jones has spent the last decade fighting for accountability over what she believes was the beating death of her son at the hands of deputies while he awaited trial for a bogus charge.
“We can make a change,” Jones assured, “but enough of us have to keep fighting to make this change.”
By 6 p.m., the speaker series had ended and the crowd began marching down Spring Street towards City Hall. Meanwhile, a second gathering for Taylor had attracted over 1,000 people to Father Serra Park across from Union Station, who began their march into downtown at around 8 p.m.
No major incidents were reported at either L.A. demonstration.