A plane banner flew over downtown Louisville, Kentucky, to remind all who saw that the city's police department took the life of someone whose work had been deemed essential amid the COVID-19 pandemic when they killed 26-year-old Breonna Taylor.
On June 13, exactly three months after her killing, a plane flew over downtown Louisville with an attached banner reading: "BREONNA WAS ESSENTIAL. DEFUND LMPD" according to WDRB. For over an hour, the plane circled the downtown area.
The banner was courtesy of UltraViolet, a nonprofit geared toward ending sexism; Color of Change, a racial justice group; and Black Lives Matter Louisville.
Taylor was killed during a botched raid when three officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) entered her apartment while she and boyfriend Kenneth Walker were sleeping and fired 22 shots. Eight of those bullets struck the 26-year-old.
"Breonna was an essential member of the Louisville community, an essential worker, and her life mattered," UltraViolet Executive Director Shaunna Thomas said in a statement obtained by WDRB. "We stand in solidarity with her family, and friends and are working in conjunction with Black Lives Matter Louisville activists who are demanding justice for her death, to keep up the pressure on all responsible parties."
"Breonna was essential. Defund LMPD" is the banner that flew over #Louisville for two hours Saturday. @WDRBNews #BreonnaTaylor pic.twitter.com/OD64zqbU8V— Joel Schipper (@JSchipperWDRB) June 13, 2020
Nationwide protests calling for charges to be brought against the officers involved have yet to cease since the fateful incident. Additionally, celebrities have been using their platforms to demand that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron take action in formally bringing charges against Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison. Beyoncé penned a letter to the 34-year-old, as Blavity previously reported.
"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," a portion of the letter reads. "This is your chance to end that pattern. Take swift and decisive action in charging the officers."
Regarding the rhetoric surrounding calls to defund the police, Louisville resident Greg Tichenor, who watched the banner fly through the city, explained to WLKY what the term means to him.
"People are scared of that term. Defund the police. But really, it's taking a system that's not working right now and looking at redirecting some money toward things that will help things in the long haul," Tichenor said.
While two officers remain on administrative duty, on Friday, Detective Hankison was officially relieved of his duties, Mayor Greg Fischer revealed. In a letter addressed to Hankison, Police Chief Robert Schroeder explained the decision.
"The result of your action seriously impedes the Department's goal of providing the citizens of our city with the most professional law enforcement agency possible. I cannot tolerate this type of conduct by any member of the Louisville Metro Police Department. Your conduct demands your termination,” he said.