Breonna Taylor should be turning 27 on Friday. Instead of having a party with her friends and loved ones, her birthday will be marked by people demanding justice for her death at the hands of the Louisville Police Department. As many grapple with activism through protesting in the streets amid a pandemic, it's important to remember Breonna's name, and say it louder and louder today. Through the #BirthdayForBreonna campaign, activists are asking people to do just that, while also providing concrete steps to ensure that Breonna is remembered and that she is not erased from the larger conversation around police violence.
"Very often when we have these moments where these stories [of police violence] bubble up, it's usually because several cases happen in a short proximity of time, and when women are involved their names get erased," Cate Young, the writer and cultural critic who started the campaign, told Refinery29. "I was watching it happen in real-time and it was frustrating for me as a Black woman and an immigrant, because I'm intimately familiar with the fact that we are walked by and ignored. It was frustrating because her life mattered, too, and I wanted to make sure that we were acknowledging that she deserves justice just as much."
Taylor was asleep in her Louisville apartment on March 13 when police entered unannounced, citing a “no-knock warrant,” and claiming they were looking for drug activity (they found none). Taylor’s boyfriend, a registered gun owner, thought they were intruders and shot at them; police fired back over 20 times, shooting Taylor eight times while she slept. The FBI has opened an investigation into her death.
Taylor was a paramedic who hoped to become a nurse one day, and had been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic helping sick members of the Louisville community. She loved the music of NBA YoungBoy, Kevin Gates, and Rod Wave, the Martin Lawrence show Martin, and the song “My Everything” by Mary J. Blige.
According to Young, those are the things we need to remember today. The #BirthdayForBreonna campaign was organised by Young after she tweeted about wanting to do something. “I want to organize something that makes the injustice of her death the *focus* of action and not just an afterthought to the men we are also mourning,” she tweeted.
"I'm immunocompromised so I can't be on the streets right and I felt like I wanted to be involved but I felt helpless," says Young. "I wanted to figure out how to do something from home. The campaign is designed to be done entirely in your home for people who don't want to be or can't be in the streets but still wants to make a difference, and it allows us to elevate a victim who isn't getting as much attention as she should be but still contributes to the overall cause."
People immediately began reaching out to see how they could help. Victoria Shin put Young in touch with Taylor's family; actress Busy Phillips posted to her 2 million Instagram followers; Jill Cartright is a graphic designer making social media images for people to download for the takeover — and that's just a few of the people who have helped make this happen. The campaign outlines several actions that people can take to honor Taylor’s life and demand justice for her death. We've detailed those actions here.
Sign the Petition
Sign the change.org petition calling for justice. The petition, which had over 3 million signatures as of Thursday, has several demands, including charges filed immediately against the officers involved, specifically John Mattingly, Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove, “and any other officer involved in the death and coverup of the death,” along with Taylor’s family receiving damages for wrongful death and the negligence of the LMPD.
Donate to Breonna’s family
There has been a GoFundMe set up to benefit Taylor’s family, who are “missing out on some work (and sleep!) in this fight for justice.” The GoFundMe was fully funded just 19 hours after Young put out the call.
Flood the hashtags #SayHerName and #BirthdayForBreonna
Take over the hashtags with remembrances of Breonna all over social media. People are encouraged to make art, music, or poetry in her honor — especially today.
Donate to the Louisville Bail Fund
Support the protesters who are in the streets demanding justice for Taylor by contributing to their bail funds. Young hopes the campaign inspires others to get involved. "This is my first time organizing anything online and it has been difficult, but a lot easier than I thought," she says. "If other people are seeing things in their community that they want to affect change for, its possible. Get online, get organized."
Ultimately, though, she hopes the campaign leads to arrests for the officers responsible for Taylor's death: "I saw the officers in George Floyd's case have all been arrested and charged and if that happened in this case, too, I would consider this a wildly successful campaign."