EUGENE, Ore. -- After no officers were charged directly with Breonna Taylor's death in Kentucky, some local leaders and Black Lives Matter activists say they're not surprised.
The Grand Jury did indict one officer for having no regard for human life -- which is a first-degree wanton endangerment charge -- but that was a result of shots he fired into a neighboring apartment.
Sen. Jeff Merkley issued the following statement following the Grand Jury's decision:
“Breonna Taylor should be alive today. She’s not because of a fundamentally racist system that cheapens her life and the lives of all Black people. Time and again, Black Americans are getting shot by officers because of a racist system in which public safety officials view white community members as the clients and Black community members as the threat. A system that assumes when responding to Black Americans, force is the first resort instead of the last. A system whose consequences persist, despite the many individual officers who strive to do the right and just thing.
“Today’s indictment falls short of the transparent accountability that the public and Breonna Taylor’s loved ones deserve. I’m glad a police officer is being held accountable for recklessly endangering the lives of people they were supposed to serve, but let’s be clear: Our entire criminal justice enterprise does that every single day. That warrant should never have been issued; all use of no-knock warrants and choke holds must end. The rehiring of officers who break the law or use force without justification must end. Training must be vastly improved. In short, Congress must pass the Justice in Policing Act that I’ve co-sponsored. We need systemic change, and we need it now.
“Breonna Taylor. Say her name.”
Ibrahim Coulibaly, the president of the Eugene-Springfield chapter of the NAACP, said he had hope this outcome would be different. But he said conversation about systemic racism needs to continue.
“The justice system did not serve Black people, it comes down to just that," Coulibaly said. “What we want to do as a community is continue the discussion on what can we do now to change the dynamic. Also what can we do to change the narrative?”
Clea Ibrahim, a community activist, said she was expecting the outcome of Wednesday’s decision.
“Sadly I was almost expecting it because of how long it has taken to even have any action on it,” Ibrahim said. “We have been chanting 'say her name' for over 100 days now and they’ve been completely silent about it.”
Ibrahim said Taylor’s family deserves justice and not a pay-out from the city of Louisville. She said protests will continue until there is tangible change.
A protest is expected outside the Eugene Federal Courthouse Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
Breonna Taylor deserved justice. We cannot accept a system that enables the extrajudicial killing of Black Americans. There is no better way to honor Breonna’s life than to continue the fight for equity and justice for every single American. https://t.co/Oo67XtWIHh
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) September 23, 2020