Some Small Justice For Breonna Taylor
Six months ago, three men burst into Breonna Taylor's Louisville, Kentucky, home while she was sleeping and shot her to death. Those responsible were never arrested because they're police officers and blue lives matter and we should stop giving cops a hard time. If we make the police feel bad whenever they break into an innocent woman's home and kill her, they might feel unappreciated and less motivated to protect us when bad guys with guns break into our own homes and open fire. Do you support law and order or leftist anarchy?
One of the three officers, Brett Hankison, was fired in June for “violating procedure." The other two — Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly — probably hope that the Louisville police department remains unable to count. Hankison is appealing his termination. (It's not as if he killed two Black women or even one white woman.)
However, Tuesday offered some good news out of Kentucky. Mayor Greg Fischer announced that the city will pay Taylor's family $12 million as part of a lawsuit settlement. This isn't funded from police union dues or anything, so Black people's own tax dollars will contribute to cleaning up after the cops.
"I cannot begin to imagine Ms. Palmer's pain, and I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna's death," Fischer said, referring to Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer.
“I can't begin to imagine your pain" is an expression Black people have heard often from our white friends and allies this summer. It's well-meaning and certainly accurate. However, it indicates the great chasm between our lived experiences in America. If you're on the more secure side of the chasm, it might tempt you to think $12 million in exchange for the life of a 26-year-old woman is a pretty good deal. It's not.
"We must not lose focus on what the real job is, and with that being said, it's time to move forward with the criminal charges, because she deserves that and much more," Palmer said.
The lawsuit Palmer filed in April alleged that the officers relied on bad information when obtaining the BS no-knock warrant to invade Taylor's apartment. However, the civil settlement has nothing to do with the ongoing criminal investigation, which is in the hands of Donald Trump stooge and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. You know Cameron is both Black and a Republican because your Tucker Carlson-binging grandmother keeps a framed photo of him on her wall next to Herman Cain's.
Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor's family, also repeated the call for charges against her killers. Neither Palmer nor Crump want Taylor's death “swept under the rug," even if $12 million could buy a lot of rugs.
The settlement does promise a range of police reforms, but given how police unions resist any and all reform, the $12 million check is less likely to bounce.
From the New York Times:.
The policing changes would require more oversight by top commanders, and make mandatory safeguards that were common practice in the department but, for reasons that are unclear, were not followed the night of the March 13 raid.
That's something. At least the safeguards the police will casually overlook for shady reasons are now mandatory.
And to promote better relations between the department and the community, officers will be encouraged to perform two hours of paid community service each week and will receive housing credits to encourage them to live in the neighborhoods they police, according to a summary provided by Mr. Aguiar.
We should monitor how much bank officers make from the “paid community service." I'm ambivalent about the housing credits, as I think that's money better spent on teachers, as with almost everything connected to modern law enforcement. I guess it's only fair that the cops who brutalize Black people have an easy commute.
The city did pass a law banning no-knock warrants that was named after Taylor. She would've preferred to name her future kids. Fischer fired police chief Steve Conrad in June. Former deputy chief Yvette Gentry is the new interim chief and the first Black woman to lead the department. If you see her framed photo on your grandmother's wall, you'll know we're in trouble.
None of this would've happened without the non-violent protests that kept the pressure on and annoyed cops. The latter is always a bonus. This is the largest settlement for a Black woman the police killed, which is a paltry honor.
Joseph Gerth, a columnist for the Louisville Courier Journal, called out the trolls who emerged from their slime holes to complain about the settlement.
One person wrote on Fischer's official Facebook page this whole thing was "all about the money."
"Her mother looks a lot happier now that she won money," another disgusting person wrote after Tamika Palmer spoke and fought to hold back tears.
If you don't spend much time around Black people, you might not recognize our expressions of joy, but I can assure you, that wasn't it. Palmer will carry this burden and feel this loss for the rest of her days.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."