BLACK VOICES

#BirthdayForBreonna Initiative Marks What Would’ve Been Breonna Taylor’s 27th Birthday

Writer Cate Young organized a day of remembrance to demand justice for Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville police in March.

Friday marks what would’ve been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. So folks across the country are writing birthday cards for her and sending them to the Kentucky attorney general and Louisville mayor to demand justice for her killing.

Taylor, 26, dreamed of being a nurse before three Louisville Metro cops gunned her down in her own home on March 13. The Louisville Courier Journal reports that the Louisville Metro Police Department obtained a “no-knock” warrant to search her home in relation to a narcotics investigation, though the house where the main suspects allegedly sold drugs was more than 10 miles away from Taylor’s apartment.

Taylor was in bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, when police used a battering ram to enter their apartment shortly after midnight. Though the officers said they announced themselves despite the “no-knock” warrant, Walker refuted the claim that they knocked and said he fired his gun in self-defense.

The cops fired back, hitting Taylor at least eight times. They have not been charged for the shooting and are currently on administrative reassignment.

Cate Young, a Los Angeles-based film critic originally from Trinidad and Tobago, organized a day of remembrance and action for Taylor. Feeling especially connected with Taylor because her mother shares the same birthday, Young called on people to write letters, donate and sign a Change.org petition calling for justice for Taylor as a “gift” to her memory.

Though Young, 29, doesn’t organize regularly, she said she couldn’t stand by and see Taylor’s name become a footnote in history. She told HuffPost that she’s tired of seeing Black women’s stories put on the back burner when they’re victims of police brutality, especially because Black women always show up to fight against systemic racism. 

It’s important not to leave Black women out of the fight for Black lives because they are instrumental to that fight. Cate Young, organizer of the day of remembrance and action for Breonna Taylor

“It’s important we say her name because she’s Black, too,” she said. “It’s important not to leave Black women out of the fight for Black lives because they are instrumental to that fight. Black women matter, too, and their lives are an important part of the Black experience. When we lose them, we lose culture, so it is imperative that we bring the same energy for them as we do for Black men. Otherwise, what are we fighting for?”

On Tuesday, Young called for ideas around how folks could mobilize for Taylor’s birthday. She leaned on Twitter users and her network to create a page listing actions people can take to fight for justice for Taylor’s family. In addition to donating and signing petitions, the campaign urges people to email and send Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer birthday cards demanding charges for the officers involved in Taylor’s killing.

Those who can’t obtain a physical card can send a virtual one through Postable for $4.00. Artist Ayla Sydney has also created a separate card, available on Young’s site, that reads, “This card was supposed to be for her.” 

“Let these men know that we haven’t forgotten her and she deserved to be alive to celebrate her birthday,” the site reads. 

Young is also urging social media users to use the hashtags #BirthdayForBreonna and #SayHerName along with relevant art, text or music that will “remind people that she lived and that her life mattered.” She also asks that people donate to the Louisville Community Bail Fund.

With these calls to action, Young is hoping that the efforts lead to the arrest and indictment of the three officers who fired shots at Taylor. 

Ahead of Taylor’s birthday, Young’s organizing has already had an impact. The goal amount for the GoFundMe Taylor’s family started hadn’t been met as of Tuesday. But Young and others amplified the fundraiser and surpassed the goal by Wednesday.

Young spent the day ahead of Taylor’s birthday away from social media while a friend took over her Twitter account to answer questions related to her mobilization efforts. She spent the day resting, reflecting and figuring out what she’d write in her birthday card for Taylor. She wasn’t exactly sure of what she’d say at the time of this interview but said that she would most likely write a prayer. 

Young said that even if political leaders didn’t read her card, “I know the prayer won’t go to waste.”

The advocacy organizations Color of Change and UltraViolet are also commemorating Taylor’s birthday by taking out a centerfold ad in the Courier Journal that declares: “Breonna was Essential.”

The ad calls on the mayor and city council to address the police department’s use of force and arrest, and demands that authorities charge and convict the three officers involved. The groups are also calling for greater police accountability, transparent investigation processes and the elimination of “no-knock” warrants.

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