From the minute that you first find out that it will happen until the minute that it happens, everyone thinks about death. Most people aren’t actively thinking about it, but it’s always there in the back of everyone’s mind, slowly gnawing away at them.
It’s one of the only things that is truly incomprehensible. People say they’re at peace with it, that they know where they’re going after it happens, but deep down, in their most private moments, everyone thinks about death.
Because when it happens, that’s it. There is no coming back. There is no such thing as a resurrection stone, or a lazarus pit, or any other deus ex machina that lets you cheat your way out of it. Because when it happens, it happens, and you’re gone.
Something I hear a lot of is “well, I support the protesters, but I don’t understand why they’re violent.” Part of the reason I think these protests are so divisive is because some people don’t understand why people are angry, and that’s because they don’t have to understand. They don’t live under threat of police violence, especially people who live in suburbia and are able to go for coffee with the cops on Tuesday mornings and converse about the issues in their communities.
I’m not here to belittle these people, or to yell and scream at them for not understanding. That won’t solve anything. I just want to try and explain it to them.
Breonna Taylor is dead. Her killers, three Louisville Metro Police Department officers, executed a no knock warrant, which the New York Times later reported to have been changed to a “knock and announce” warrant prior to the raid. According to 11 of Taylor’s neighbors, one of whom was outside smoking a cigarette as it happened, all three officers failed to announce who they were, despite Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, repeatedly yelling “who is it” as they entered.
Walker, believing someone to be breaking in, because any reasonable person would assume that’s what was happening, acted in self defense, firing at the police. The police retaliated by firing 32 shots, killing Taylor.
Despite what Donald Trump wants people to believe, this is not a partisan issue. In June, Republican Senator Rand Paul introduced the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act, which would prohibit the issuing of no knock warrants by any law enforcement agency in the country. This is not an issue that you should be picking the side you’re on based off of who you’re voting for in November, this is an issue you should pick your side on based on what happened here.
Breonna Taylor is dead. She was 26 years old. She wasn’t just a hashtag and a news headline. She was a human being who had emotions. She had good days and bad days. She had childhood memories and dreams for the future. She wasn’t just the photos you see of her on the news and social media, she was a person who physically existed. She woke up every morning, she tied her shoes, she signed her name on checks, she had a favorite movie. She was a person who went to work, and walked down the street, just another person going day by day throughout life. And now she’s dead.
Despite the City of Louisville paying Taylor’s family $12 million, only one of three cops has been indicted. Not for the murder of Breonna Taylor, but for three counts of endangerment for the shots that went into Taylor’s neighbors wall.
And people ask why there’s the violence, why the rioting, why the looting. It’s not just because the cops weren’t indicted. It’s because Breonna Taylor should still be alive today. It’s because George Floyd should still be alive today. It’s because Rayshard Brooks should still be alive today. It’s because Philando Castille, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Tanisha Anderson, Freddie Gray, and countless others should still be alive today. And each and every one of them was a conscious individual human being who just assumed they’d make it through the day.
People say “burning a cop car won’t bring Breonna Taylor back.” But people aren’t burning cop cars to bring her back. They’re burning cop cars because nothing can bring her back.