Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Decision Announced

By Terrance Turner

No officers have been directly charged in the death of Breonna Taylor.

In case you’ve been under a rock: On March 13, emergency medical technician Breonna Taylor was in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. They had fallen asleep after watching the movie “Freedom Writers”, according to USA Today. The Louisville Metro Police began banging on her door around 12:40 am. They had a no-knock warrant, which allows them to enter a home without warning. The police were carrying out a drug investigation for a suspect that had already been arrested. (Jamarcus Glover, who was also named on the search warrant for Taylor’s apartment, was arrested the same night, 10 miles away, at a house on Elliott Avenue in the Russell neighborhood, per USA Today.)

So officers broke into Taylor’s home — the wrong house — wearing plain clothes, allegedly without identifying themselves, to arrest a suspected drug dealer who had already been arrested. (There were no drugs in Taylor’s apartment, by the way.) The two called out, asking who it was, but got no response, Walker said in a police interview. The officers used a battering ram to break into the apartment, according to the New York Times.

Kenneth Walker, believing his home was being burglarized, asserted his 2nd Amendment rights. He grabbed his gun and began firing at what he thought were intruders. The police responded with a torrent of gunfire. The officers — Brett Hankison, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, and Myles Cosgrove — fired 20 bullets into the apartment, hitting Taylor five times.

Dispatch logs obtained by USA Today show that Taylor laid where she fell in her hallway for more than 20 minutes after she was fatally shot at approximately 12:43 a.m. She received no medical attention; officers were too busy trying to put a tourniquet on Mattingly’s thigh after he was shot. An ambulance had left Taylor’s street an hour before the raid—counter to standard police practice—meaning she didn’t get help for more than 20 minutes after the shooting, per the Daily Beast.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family reveals that she lived for another “five to six minutes” while officers ignored her injuries. Breonna Taylor died from those injuries. She was 26. Her death certificate, reviewed by the New York Times, showed she had been struck by five bullets.

None of those officers have been directly charged in her death.

Today, it was announced that of the three officers, only Brent Hankison was charged. He was charged, however, with wanton endangerment — with endangering the other people in the apartment complex (officers’ bullets also hit a neighboring unit, per the Times.) But no one — NOT ONE OFFICER — was directly charged in her death. Mr. Hankison was the only officer fired; the other two officers were placed on administrative duty. And none of them will be held directly liable for her death.

The Louisville justice system had the audacity to charge Kenneth Walker for attempted murder. (Those charges were eventually dropped.) But not one of the officers who killed Breonna Taylor will be held responsible for her death. In a press conference held today, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the three officers fired a total of 32 shots. Rounds fired by Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove struck Ms. Taylor, he said. But that apparently still wasn’t enough to justify charging the officers with manslaughter or murder.

“According to Kentucky law, the use of force by [Officers Jonathan] Mattingly and [Myles] Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves,” Cameron said. “This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor’s death.” He added: “But my heart breaks for the loss of Miss Taylor. And I’ve said that repeatedly. My mother, if something was to happen to me, would find it very hard,” he added, choking up. He was emotional discussing the case, according to the AP.

Black writer and author Michael Arceneaux was unconvinced by Cameron’s display:

Other voices were equally outraged. LA Charger Justin Jackson had this to say:

Activist Brittany Packyetti wrote:

New York Times writer Jenna Wortham was simple and blunt:

The family of Breonna Taylor was dismayed by the decision. “How ironic and typical that the only charges brought in this case were for shots fired into the apartment of a white neighbor, while no charges were brought for the shots fired into the Black neighbor’s apartment or into Breonna’s residence,” they wrote. The Taylor family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, denounced the decision as “outrageous and offensive,” and protesters shouting, “No justice, no peace!” began marching through the streets. Some sat quietly and wept, according to the Associated Press. Protests continue in Louisville as of this very moment.

This is a developing situation; please check back for updates.

Michelle Obama Issues Stirring Clarion Call To Voters At DNC

By Terrance Turner

Tonight, the first night of the Democratic National Convention closed with a stirring, substantive speech by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama spoke to the pain and fatigue many are feeling amid the coronavirus pandemic. But she also called for empathy and decency — emphasizing those qualities in candidate Joe Biden and underscoring their absence in the current president. Above all, however, she implored everyone to vote.

Mrs. Obama began by speaking directly to the American people. “I love this country with all my heart, and it pains me to see so many people hurting,” she said. “I’ve met so many of you. I’ve heard your stories. And through you, I have seen this country’s promise. And thanks to so many who came before me, thanks to their toil and sweat and blood, I’ve been able to live that promise myself.”

“That’s the story of America,” she said. “All those folks who sacrificed and overcame so much in their own times because they wanted something more, something better for their kids.” With that, she began to outline the taxing requirements of the American presidency.

“I am one of a handful of people living today who have seen firsthand the immense weight and awesome power of the presidency. And let me once again tell you this: the job is hard. It requires clear-headed judgment, a mastery of complex and competing issues, a devotion to facts and history, a moral compass, and an ability to listen—and an abiding belief that each of the 330 million lives in this country has meaning and worth.”

“A president’s words have the power to move markets. They can start wars or broker peace. They can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts. You simply cannot fake your way through this job,” she said. “As I’ve said before, being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are. Well, a presidential election can reveal who we are, too. And four years ago, too many people chose to believe that their votes didn’t matter. Maybe they were fed up. Maybe they thought the outcome wouldn’t be close. Maybe the barriers felt too steep.

Whatever the reason, in the end, those choices sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly three million votes. In one of the states that determined the outcome, the winning margin averaged out to just two votes per precinct—two votes. And we’ve all been living with the consequences.” (Jewell Porter, the mobilization director for the Michigan Democratic Party, says that Mrs. Obama was referencing Michigan.)

“When my husband left office with Joe Biden at his side, we had a record-breaking stretch of job creation. We’d secured the right to health care for 20 million people. We were respected around the world, rallying our allies to confront climate change. And our leaders had worked hand-in-hand with scientists to help prevent an Ebola outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.

Four years later, the state of this nation is very different. More than 150,000 people have died, and our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long. It has left millions of people jobless.” (At least 30 million, according to Forbes.) “Too many have lost their health care; too many are struggling to take care of basic necessities like food and rent; too many communities have been left in the lurch to grapple with whether and how to open our schools safely. Internationally, we’ve turned our back — not just on agreements forged by my husband, but on alliances championed by presidents like Reagan and Eisenhower.”

“And here at home, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office.” (On July 1, as “Black Lives Matter” was painted on the ground in front of Trump Tower, Trump lambasted BLM as a “symbol of hate”. The remarks came nearly three years after he referred to Nazis and white supremacists as “very fine people”. Meanwhile, the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor have STILL not been arrested.)

Mrs. Obama added that “whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy.” That, in fact, was the word of the night.

“Empathy: that’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The ability to walk in someone else’s shoes; the recognition that someone else’s experience has value, too. Most of us practice this without a second thought. If we see someone suffering or struggling, we don’t stand in judgment. We reach out because, ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I.’ It is not a hard concept to grasp. It’s what we teach our children.

Barack and I have tried our best to instill in our girls a strong moral foundation to carry forward the values that our parents and grandparents poured into us. But right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another. They’re looking around wondering if we’ve been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value.

They see people shouting in grocery stores, unwilling to wear a mask to keep us all safe. They see people calling the police on folks minding their own business just because of the color of their skin. They see an entitlement that says only certain people belong here, that greed is good, and winning is everything because as long as you come out on top, it doesn’t matter what happens to everyone else. And they see what happens when that lack of empathy is ginned up into outright disdain.

They see our leaders labeling fellow citizens enemies of the state while emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists. They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protestors for a photo-op.

Sadly, this is the America that is on display for the next generation.

So what do we do now? What’s our strategy? Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me, ‘When others are going so low, does going high still really work?’ My answer: going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else. We degrade ourselves. We degrade the very causes for which we fight.

But let’s be clear: going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top. Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences.

And going high means unlocking the shackles of lies and mistrust with the only thing that can truly set us free: the cold hard truth.

So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.

It is what it is.

Now, Joe is not perfect. And he’d be the first to tell you that. But there is no perfect candidate, no perfect president. And his ability to learn and grow—we find in that the kind of humility and maturity that so many of us yearn for right now. Because Joe Biden has served this nation his entire life without ever losing sight of who he is; but more than that, he has never lost sight of who we are, all of us.

“So if you take one thing from my words tonight,” she continued, “it is this: if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can. And they will — if we don’t make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.”

Roger Goodell, Pushed By Black NFL Players, Finally Admits the Truth

Roger Goodell announced a reversal of the NFL's stance on player protests on Friday. (Photo by Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

By Terrance Turner

Today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged a truth we know to be self-evident. But that acknowledgement came only belatedly, only after years of blacklisting outspoken black players. Only after quarterback Drew Brees caught fire for clueless comments about player protests. Only after days of large-scale protests broke out in Minneapolis, Denver, Boston, L.A., New York, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and beyond — and after a frankly stunning video from the players.

Yesterday, several black NFL players released a video addressing the racism and police brutality that have led to cities ravaged by protest. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Saints player Michael Thomas, and Giants running back Saquon Barkley appear in the film. So do two of the Kansas City Chiefs: safety Tyrann Mathieu and quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. join them. They all ask the NFL to condemn racism. To admit its wrongdoing. To listen to its players.

“It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered,” Thomas begins.

“How many times do we have to ask you to listen to your players?” Mathieu asks.

What will it take?” questions Hopkins.

“What if I were George Floyd?” they ask. To hear them pose the question — some one by one, some in unison — is poignant enough. But to witness Mathieu, Hopkins, Zeke, Beckham, Barkley, Mahomes and others say “Black Lives Matter” gave me chills. The end is devastating: Beckham, with palpable emotion in his voice and liquid eyes, ends the video by repeating: “Black Lives Matter.”

The powerful video compelled Roger Goodell to do exactly what the players asked. After the brutal murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, after the blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick from the NFL — and after 10 days of alternately peaceful and violent protests across our shores — Roger Goodell gets it. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a video today condemning racism on behalf of the NFL.

“This has been a difficult time for our country — in particular, black people in this country,” Goodell said. He expressed condolences to the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both killed by police in recent weeks. He even admitted to wrongfully silencing NFL players.

Here are his remarks, quoted in part by Yahoo! Sports:

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” Goodell said. “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.

“We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter. I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League. And the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.”

Roger Goodell: NFL admits ‘we were wrong’ on player protests, says ‘black lives matter’


He’s absolutely right. Without black players, there would be no National Football League. And Roger Goodell knows it. According to a 2017 TIDES study, the NFL is roughly 70% black. And those black players form the backbone of the National Football League. It is their strength, their power, their athleticism, that power the league to earn billions of dollars year after year.

And it is their voices that have been silenced.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew harsh criticism (and the ire of the president) by protesting racism and police brutality in 2016. The sight of Kaepernick quietly kneeling on the sidelines during the national anthem caused heated debate across America. It was clear from the beginning what his reasons were.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. But people apparently misheard him. Somehow it turned into a conversation about “disrespecting” the American flag. That false narrative was amplified by the president, who called on the league to fire players who kneeled. (But when white people stormed the Michigan State Capitol with firearms last month, he cheered the liberation” of America. From stay-home orders that were supposed to protect Americans from coronavirus.)

Somehow, it turned into a conversation about “offending” the military — some of whom supported Kaepernick, by the way. (Nobody talks about the fact that Kaepernick got the idea to kneel from a former Green Beret, according to the New York Times.) After Trump fanned the flames of racial animus, more and more people expressed outrage about the protests. And the NFL caved to the pressure, fining players who took a knee. Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016, despite leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl three years earlier. The NFL didn’t support his peaceful protest. But now, things are different. Maybe.

After George Floyd, 46, was suffocated by then-police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, something changed. The viral video of Chauvin spending eight minutes with his knee on Floyd’s neck was a cultural reset. It exposed the suffering that too many black Americans experience at the hands of the police. Days of protests displayed the raw pain and anger that black people felt after watching Floyd slowly die at the hands of Derek Chauvin.

That pain was intensified when reports surfaced about Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was shot eight times by police in Louisville. Police entered her home using a no-knock warrant, failing to identify themselves. They had the wrong house (!!!), and the suspect had already been arrested. They fired 22 rounds into her apartment anyway, killing Taylor. (Today would’ve been her 27th birthday.)

Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in Glynn County, Georgia, when he was stalked and then shot to death. Gregory and his son Travis McMichael trailed Arbery in their pickup truck, while William Bryan aided the ambush by trying to block Arbery in. CNN reports that as Arbery tried to run away from his stalkers and ran past Bryan’s vehicle, Bryan hit him with the side of his truck. Then he watched and filmed the McMichaels’ deadly double-team. As Gregory aimed his handgun, Travis shot Arbery at point-blank range, making sure to walk over and call Arbery a “f—king nigger” as he lay dying.

In response to these tragedies, the unrest they caused, and the voices of the players, Goodell caved.

“I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve,” Goodell said.

He can start by giving Colin Kaepernick a call.