AUSCP Anti-racism Group Meeting, Friday, September 25, 2020
The meeting began with reflections about the Breonna Taylor case and the Grand Jury findings shared this week. After 120+ days of protest in support of Black Lives Matter and justice for Breonna Taylor, many Louisvillians are sad, angry and divided. Louisville families, parishes and neighborhoods are divided into protesters and people supporting the protesters and police and people supporting the police.
When the Grand Jury failed to indict any of the three officers for Breonna’s death, people who have been speaking out on Breonna’s behalf were stunned, saddened and moved to anger. As protesters took to the streets, they were overwhelmingly peaceful. However, later in the evening two police officers were shot by a protester who is in police custody with a $1 million bond set.
The Kentucky Governor and the Louisville Mayor have spoken out about systematic racism and have called for a release of the Grand Jury transcripts. Lawyers representing Breonna Taylor’s family are also calling for the release of the Grand Jury transcript. There has not been a public statement from the Archbishop of Louisville regarding the Grand Jury decision.
The Grand Jury did indict one of the officer’s involved in the raid on Breonna’s apartment for 3 counts of wanton endangerment, not for shooting into Breonna’s apartment, but for shooting three bullets into a neighboring apartment occupied by white people. He also shot into a third apartment occupied by African Americans. However, he was not charged with any offense for shooting into the third apartment. This officer was taken into custody but he is currently free because he posted $15,000 bail.
The officer who was shot by Breonna’s boyfriend as police forced their way into her apartment in March has sent an email to his police colleagues stating that what he did the night of Breonna’s death was “legal, ethical and moral”. In his email, he expressed no remorse for the death of Ms. Taylor. A police commander sent out an email this week calling the Black Lives Matter supporters thugs and people lacking in moral character. As of today, she has been relieved from her post and will retire October 1st.
There is a very visible police presence throughout Louisville and the city is under a 9pm-6:30am curfew for at least through this coming weekend.
What can we do about this?
- Continue to educate ourselves. Read “The Weaponization of Whiteness in Schools”, Coshandra Dillard, Teaching Tolerance, Issue 65, Fall 2020
- Encourage priests and bishops to speak out from the pulpit about this issue in addition to speaking out about systemic racism. This is difficult especially since many in our Catholic communities are police officers.
- Continue to examine our Catholic Church for systemic racism. For example, one participant shared an image of St Michael the Archangel as a heavily armed white angel slaying a devil that looked like a Black man. St. Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of police officers. Why is the Catholic Church still displaying racist depictions such as this?
- AUSCP can continue to share homily ideas connecting anti-racist teachings with the weekly Gospel reading.
- Speak out about police reform. Support the demilitarization of the police. Question the need for all officers to carry guns. Encourage de-escalation training and discussions around appropriate use of force.
- Watch the Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma” to raise awareness of the power of social media platforms to feed us content that supports biases we already hold. It also describes the power of sensationalized news reports to stoke division and discord.
What would justice for Breonna Taylor Look like?
- All three officers who fired shots the night Breonna was killed would be tried for murder or at least manslaughter.
- Release of the transcripts of the Grand Jury proceedings including what evidence was presented
- Release of the demographic composition of the Grand Jury
- Real police reform which would include a demilitarization of the police force, social workers working side by side with the police, universal use of body cameras by police, de-escalization training and use of force as last resort training.
- Creation of citizen boards to oversee any complaints of police misconduct, officer shootings, etc.
- Intentional efforts to eliminate systemic racism in place of just talking about this.