MY TAKE: WHAT MAKES THE DEATH OF BREONNA TAYLOR RACIST?
HISTORY RACE AND CHANGE
December 1, 2020
Yes, this is a very well known case, but do you actually know why it is considered racist?
Let’s circle back to the facts.
“… [A]s Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker are asleep inside their… apartment at the St. Anthony Gardens on Springfield Drive, there are knocks on the front door…Plainclothes Louisville Metro Police Department Officers Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison, and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, use a battering ram to force open the green door with a gold No. [four] hanging on it, at which point police say they are met with a gunshot that strikes Mattingly in the thigh…The three officers blindly return fire with more than 25 bullets –…Walker, a licensed gun owner with no criminal record, calls 911 tearfully pleading for help as he thinks a home invasion is in progress…”Somebody kicked in the door, shot my girlfriend,” says Walker to the 911 dispatcher…Walker surrenders and is taken into custody on charges of attempted murder of a police officer…Police find no drugs inside Taylor’s apartment.” Wrote Cristina Carrega and Sabina Ghebremdhin, two writers for ABC News.
After reviewing the synopsis of the actions that were taken place that night, one may wonder, “Where is the racism behind all of this?” Let me explain.
“Brett Hankison, a detective at the time, fired into the sliding glass patio door and window of Ms. Taylor’s apartment, both of which were covered with blinds, in violation of a department policy that requires officers to have a line of sight…He is the only one of the three officers who was dismissed from the force, with a termination letter stating that he showed “an extreme indifference to the value of human life.” The New York Times stated.
Yes: as quoted above, there was an excessive use of force and a lack of punishment for these police officers, but the question still stands: why should this case be considered a racist claim?
First, let’s look at some statistics. cpdp.co reports 37,502 allegations of illegal searches, 56,523 allegations of use of force, and 247,150 allegations and in total, seven percent disciplined just within the city of Chicago (1988-2020). “Every 12 hours, somebody is getting shot on average, sometimes more often than that…” Metro Council President David James told Mark Morales and Elizabeth Joseph from CNN.
Why is this the systemic mind set? “Officers are conditioned to see themselves as constantly in danger and that the only way to guarantee survival is to dominate the citizens they’re supposed to protect. The police believe they’re alone in this fight; police ideology…combined with widely held racial stereotypes, push officers toward violent and racist behavior during intense and stressful street interactions.” Zack Beuchamp of Vox said.
Beuchamp goes on to write, “In 1998, Georgia sheriff’s deputy Kyle Dinkheller pulled over a middle-aged white man named Andrew Howard Brannan for speeding. Brannan, a Vietnam veteran with PTSD, refused to comply with Dinkheller’s instructions. He got out of the car and started dancing in the middle of the road, singing, ‘Here I am, shoot me,’ over and over again…Brannan charges at Dinkheller; Dinkheller tells him to ‘get back.’ Brannan heads back to the car — only to reemerge with a rifle pointed at Dinkheller. The officer fires first, and misses; Brannan shoots back. In the ensuing firefight, both men are wounded, but Dinkheller far more severely. It ends with Brannan standing over Dinkheller, pointing the rifle at the deputy’s eye. He yells — ‘Die, f*cker!’ — and pulls the trigger…Every cop knows the name ‘Dinkheller…”’
The mentality of treating every emergency as the one Dinkheller faced doesn’t make violence okay. Not every investigation or 911 call is the same, and that’s why it is important to keep our facts straight so America doesn’t witness another Breonna Taylor case.