Beyonce demands Breonna Taylor's police killers be charged as protests continue for third weekend

Singer's intervention puts added pressure on Louisville police, whose officers still have not been charged

Andrew Naughtie
Monday 15 June 2020 15:21 BST
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Vast Black Lives Matter crowd gathers in Brooklyn

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As Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd continued for a third weekend, Beyonce has written an open letter to the Kentucky attorney general urging him to charge three officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead in her apartment in Louisville in March.

In the letter, posted on her website, the singer and songwriter points out that while it has been over three months since Ms Taylor was killed by officers executing a “no-knock” warrant, her family has yet to be given justice – while the three officers involved in the shooting remain employed.

“Three months have passed,” she writes, “and Breonna Taylor’s family still waits for justice. Ms Taylor’s family has not been able to take time to process and grieve. Instead, they have been working tirelessly to rally the support of friends, their community, and the country to obtain justice for Breonna.”

Urging the attorney general to bring charges against the officers who killed Ms Taylor, Beyonce implores him to get the case right.

“With every death of a Black person at the hands of the police, there are two real tragedies: the death itself, and the inaction and delays that follow it. This is your chance to end that pattern. Take swift and decisive action in charging the officers. The next months cannot look like the last three.

Beyonce released her letter as the streets of American cities once again filled with tens of thousands of protesters demanding justice for those recently killed by police, and an end to the violence against Black Americans that persists in a culture of systemic racism.

In Miami, Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin – an unarmed 17-year-old shot dead by a neighbour who thought he looked suspicious – joined a protest organised by several churches. Her son’s death in 2012 and his killer’s acquittal was one of several high-profile incidents that together fuelled what became the Black Lives Matter movement.

However, Ms Fulton has also spoken out against the idea of “defunding” the police. Currently running for the office of county commissioner in Miami-Dade, she told the Guardian that “I think we need more police. We need police with better standards, and police with better ethics and better work habits.”

A demonstrator holds a sign with the image of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers, during a protest against the death George Floyd in Minneapolis, in Denver, Colorado on June 3, 2020. (AFP / Jason Connolly )
A demonstrator holds a sign with the image of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers, during a protest against the death George Floyd in Minneapolis, in Denver, Colorado on June 3, 2020. (AFP / Jason Connolly ) (AFP / Jason Connolly)

In Minneapolis, at least seven police officers resigned amid what’s been described as a “morale crisis” in the city’s law enforcement ranks; several others are thought to be in the process of leaving. Officers reportedly feel squeezed between the media, city authorities, and furious, sometimes violent crowds who regard them as aggressors.

Most of the city council has now backed a pledge to “dismantle” the police force, although what that will mean in practice is as yet unclear.

Brooklyn saw a massive demonstration under the banner of “Black Trans Lives Matter”, with thousands of protesters marking the murders of two black trans women last week; both deaths were remembered at other major protests around both the US and the world.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, three people were injured when a deer ran into a protest on Friday. According to police, a 69-year-old woman received a head injury, while two others were treated at the scene.

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