Louisville Police Slaying of Breonna Taylor Gets Oprah Involved
By Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt, Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics, American Military University
O magazine has a new face. For the first time in the magazine’s 20-year history, Oprah Winfrey is not on the cover.
She dedicated the September 2020 cover to Breonna Taylor. On March 13, 2020, Taylor was shot eight times by Louisville police officers as she slept in her home. Three plainclothed officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department used a battering ram and a No Knock Warrant to barge into the private residence.
A No Knock Warrant allows police to enter a private residence without knocking or announcing their presence. Judges issue such warrants when they agree that the announcement of a police presence would enable suspects to destroy evidence, harm ofeficers, or escape. Since Breonna Taylor’s death, the Louisville Metro Police Department has banned No Knock Warrants, but they are still legal in several cities across the country.
None of the Officers Has Been Charged
At the time of this writing, none of the officers has been charged and only one was fired by the police department. According to The Louisville Courier Journal’s Tessa Duval “…after Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine recused himself from the Taylor case in May because of a conflict of interest, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s assumed oversight of the investigation.
“As attorney general, Cameron could have appointed a special prosecutor but instead opted to keep the case within his office because of the importance of this matter, the heavy workload associated with the investigation and the amount of time that had already transpired since the shooting.”
While Cameron has pledged to conduct a thorough investigation, there have been no published results five months later. What’s ironic is that the small group who staged a peaceful protest for Breonna Taylor on Cameron’s property was arrested for trespassing within minutes of their arrival.
Use Your Megaphone
Says Winfrey, “What I know for sure: We can’t be silent. We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice.”
Oprah’s megaphone extends past the magazine, and into the very heart of Louisville. O Magazine is putting up 26 billboards around the city, one for each year of Taylor’s life to amplify her story and fight for justice in her name. The billboards urge people to “Demand that the police involved in killing Breonna Taylor be arrested and charged.” They point readers to the website of Until Freedom, a social justice organization that recently moved to Louisville to focus on Taylor’s case.
According to Until Freedom, there is a five-prong approach to address racial injustice:
- Campaign development with tangible demands – When presented with a tragedy, a case of injustice, or bad policy we have the ability to build a multi-faceted and multi-pronged campaign that includes digital communications, messaging, a power analysis and winnable asks.
- Rapid response and triage – We have the training and ability to quickly mobilize contacts, organizers, faith leaders, and organizations.
- Training and resource development with a focus on underserved communities – We have expertise on a wide range of issues and have a track record of providing sought-out workshops and trainings in organizing 101, building your brand, how to use social media effectively, media 101, financial literacy, crisis communications, and management, amongst other topics and subjects.
- Media advocacy – Effectively using the media to raise awareness on important issues impacting Black and brown communities through editorial board meetings, opinion pieces, relationship building.
- Partnerships with influencers to uplift campaigns and stories – We act as a clearinghouse for influencers and artists on issue campaigns and provide resources and information so they can amplify important community-led solutions
- Faith-based outreach and engagement – If you are able to give significant hours for volunteer work you can email the organization.
The website also provides suggestions about how citizens can join the movement to ensure that no citizen is a victim of No Knock Warrants in the future.
Find Your Megaphone
I never really thought I had a megaphone, but if you’re a part of the conversation, then you do have a platform to speak out about systemic racism. The megaphone may be starting a conversation, donating to a cause, writing to a local, state, or nationally elected official, and volunteering your time. This is how we continue to be an ally and work toward change.
Where’s your megaphone? Use it to say Breonna Taylor’s name.
About the Author: Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, PMP, is a professor at American Military University and has 20 years of experience managing projects that specialize in supply chain management. She holds a B.S. in meteorology and an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.
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