The 400-Year-Old Pandemic: Police Violence Against Blacks

Kait LeonardBy Kait Leonard

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The 400-Year-Old Pandemic: Police Violence Against Blacks
June 5, 2020. Approximately 300 people gather peacefully on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills to protest police violence against the African American community as represented by the deaths of George Floyd and other recent victims of police shootings. Protestors display signs with slogans like “Black Lives Matter,” “We Won’t Be Quiet!,” and “I Can’t Breathe!” The crowd cheers and fists pound the air as speakers, poets, and singers demand justice and systemic change.
Several people in the group hold signs honoring Breonna Taylor who would have turned 27 today had she not been killed by police when they entered her Louisville, KY, home in the middle of the night on March 13. They were looking for drugs they did not find. Taylor was shot at least eight times, according to reports. Police maintain they were met with gunfire when they served a search warrant. The family of the victim disputes this.

“Peaceful protestors in Beverly Hills call for justice and systemic change.”

“I’m holding up Breonna’s name so people don’t forget that the police kill black women too,” says a young woman who preferred not to be named. Taylor’s death received less national attention than did Floyd’s. When asked to comment on this, some people today feel the difference in public response has to do with the fact that no images of the crime were made public.

One woman holding a Justice for Breonna sign said “It’s easier to cover up what they’re doing when no one’s standing around with a camera.” The shooting occurred before 1 a.m. in Taylor’s bedroom. No footage will be released by the department because officers involved did not wear body cameras, according to the Chief of Louisville Metro Police. The officers involved are currently on administrative leave.

Today, the streets in Beverly Hills are calm. Traffic control officers have blocked off parts of Wilshire Blvd. to accommodate the protest. Cars with banners displaying the names of David McAtee and Momodou Lamin Sisay drive slowly through the intersections. McAtee, owner of a popular barbecue spot that served Louisville police free of charge, was killed as police attempted to disperse a crowd of protestors on June 3. Momodou Lamin Sisay, son of a retired Gambian diplomat, was shot during a routine traffic stop on May 29. Police maintain that Sisay drew and fired a gun, prompting the police to respond with fire. The Gambian Foreign Affairs Ministry is calling for a full investigation.

Unlike the massive police presence during the height of the protests, today only a smattering of police cars are stationed along Wilshire. Officers watch the gathering from a distance. People are respectful and the streets are calm. Some shops in the area remain boarded up. Others have opened for business, though aside from protestors, the sidewalks are relatively free of the usual Beverly Hills shoppers and diners.

Today the streets of Beverly Hills are calm, but according to protestors, life will not go back to business as usual until justice is served.
Kait Leonard

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June 26, 2020