The US city of Louisville, Kentucky will pay $12 million (€10 million) to the family of Breonna Taylor and reform police practices as part of a lawsuit settlement after she was killed by police in March, Mayor Greg Fischer announced on Tuesday.
As a part of the settlement, the city will implement “needed reforms to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again,” he said at the Tuesday news conference with Taylor’s family and civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
The reforms include a mandate for commanding officers to sign off on search warrants.
The image of civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis, who died on July 17, is projected onto the statue of Confederate Robert Lee in Richmond, Virginia. A champion of non-violent protest, he attended the 1963 March on Washington and played a key role in abolishing racial segregation. He famously declared: “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Amelia Boynton Robinson was a civil rights pioneer who fought for voting rights for African Americans. She helped organize a 5-day civil rights march from the city of Selma to Montgomery in Alabama in March 1965. During the protest, Robinson and others were brutally beaten by state police. Images of what became known as Bloody Sunday went around the world.
Thurgood Marshall, pictured here in 1957, was the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court. Announcing his pick, US President Lyndon B. Johnson declared it was “the right thing to do, the right time to do it, the right man and the right place.” Marshall, who was born in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, successfully fought against the racial segregation of US schools and universities.
Rosa Parks made history, when on December 1, 1955, she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her subsequent arrest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, led by Martin Luther King. The 385 days of protest proved effective when on November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling declaring segregated busses unconstitutional in Alabama and Montgomery.
Martin Luther King at Memphis’ Lorraine Motel, on the day of his killing on April 4, 1968. One day earlier, King famously said: “I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land.” Also pictured (to King’s left): Civil rights activist Hosea Williams and Baptist minister Jesse Jackson, to his right, Ralph Abernathy.
Andrew Jackson Young was in Memphis, Tennessee, on the day of Martin Luther King’s murder. The politician, civil rights leader, and clergyman had joined King in leading the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1967, President-elect Jimmy Carter nominated Young as the US ambassador to the United Nations. In 1981, he was elected mayor of Atlanta.
Malcolm Little, better known as Malcolm X (left), rejected Martin Luther King’s notion of non-violent protest. He was portrayed by actor Denzel Washington (right) in Spike Lee’s 1992 biopic “Malcolm X.” Once the African American leader of Nation of Islam, he later abandoned the organization, becoming one of its most fervent critics. He was assassinated on February 21, 1965.
Barbara Jordan was the first woman and the first African American keynote speaker at a Democratic National Convention. In 1974, the attorney, legislator, and educator declared in the House of Representatives that “my faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total.”
Ella Fitzgerald, born in a New York suburb in 1917, was not only a jazz but also a civil rights icon. Fitzgerald, who won 13 Grammys and sold some 40 million records, always insisted musicians touring with her be treated equally, regardless of their skin color. She was the first African American woman to perform at Los Angeles’ Mocambo night club after actress Marilyn Monroe publicly backed her.
Novelist Alice Walker became involved in the US civil rights movement in the 1960s. She was just 17 when she joined the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Walker’s novels feature strong, black women. And her work The Color Purple won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983.
Baptist minister Al Sharpton speaking at George Floyd’s funeral service. In 2004, Sharpton was a Democratic candidate for the presidential race. Two years later, in 2006, he led a protest march in honor of Sean Bell, a 23-year-old African American who had been shot dead by police. Al Sharpton is an outspoken and at times controversial activist.
US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama visited a Washington homeless shelter in January 2017, where they helped finish a mural of Martin Luther King. Obama was the first-ever African American to be elected president of the United States.
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“I cannot begin to imagine Ms. Palmer’s pain, and I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death,” Fischer said, referring to Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer.
Crump noted that the settlement was the largest amount paid in a wrongful-death settlement for a Black woman killed by police in the United States.
“We won’t let Breonna Taylor’s life be swept under the rug,” he said.
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Taylor’s mother also called for charges against the officers involved in the shootings. “As significant as today is, it’s only the beginning of getting full justice for Breonna,” said Palmer.
“We must not lose focus on what the real drive is and with that being said, it’s time to move forward with the criminal charges because she deserves that and much more.”
The news conference was broadcast over a loudspeaker downtown, which people listened to as they sat around a memorial to Taylor.
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Taylor’s death sparked months of protests in Louisville and nationwide calls for the officers involved to be criminally charged. The state’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, is investigating police actions in the March 13 shooting.
Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency-room technician, was shot eight times and killed by police who broke into her apartment to serve a no-knock narcotics warrant for someone else. Taylor and her boyfriend were taken out of bed by police, and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he fired once at the officers thinking it was an intruder.
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Investigators say police were returning fire when they shot Taylor.
Her killing, along with other high-profile cases such as George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police in May, has been instrumental in fueling a nationwide protest movement against police brutality and racism.
People gathered from across the country to commemorate the anniversary of the March on Washington. Crowds flooded the National Mall for a mass march marking the anniversary of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s historic “I have a dream” speech on August 28, 1963.
Incidents of police brutality against Black people and racial injustice was a recurring theme during the march. Friday’s demonstration was dubbed “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” in reference to George Floyd, who suffocated beneath the knee of a white officer in Minneapolis in May, igniting the most widespread civil unrest in the country in decades.
Around 200,000 people attended the event. Alongside Martin Luther King III, the son of the legendary civil rights activist, speakers included Al Sharpton and Democrat candidate for vice president, Kamala Harris.
In his speech, Martin Luther King III said, “There is a knee upon the neck of democracy and our nation can only live so long without the oxygen of freedom.”
“We didn’t just come out here to have a show. Demonstration without legislation will not lead to change,” said Reverend Al Sharpton while addressing the crowds.
Thousands of marchers, among them many families with children, streamed towards the event from dawn, with COVID-19 masks mandatory. But planned temperature checks were abandoned due to long queues.
lc/dr (AFP, AP, dpa)