On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by three Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers after the they forcefully entered her home on a drug warrant (known as a no-knock search warrant), striking her more than eight times with gunfire after Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, fearing for their safety, shot at one of the officer’s legs.
It has been over 150 days since Breonna Taylor’s death and many people, including celebrities, are demanding justice as Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove, the three officers involved, have yet to be arrested or charged. Although Hankison, who has sexually harassed multiple women, was terminated by the LMPD on June 23, he and the other two officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death need to be held accountable.
George Floyd’s gruesome murder at the hands of a white police officer in late May sparked a series of protests (which are still ongoing) around the world against police brutality, lack of police accountability, and racism in policing. These protests have also brought a lot of fury over the killing of Breonna Taylor.
As I have stated earlier, many people, including celebrities, are doing everything they can in demanding justice that Breonna Taylor deserves. On June 5, the day that Breonna Taylor would have celebrated her 27th birthday, various celebrities have used their platforms to honor her life and demand legal action against Mattingly, Hankison, and Cosgrove. Many (celebrities and regular people) also used June 5 to promote the hashtag #SayHerName across social media to remember Taylor and raise awareness about her case.
Celebrities also encouraged their followers on social media to do the same. Before and after Breonna Taylor’s birthday, various celebrities have demanded justice for the emergency medical technician in such powerful ways that vary from attending notable protests, moving essays and statements, participating in campaigns, donating money, and providing resources for their social media followers, to name several ways.
Now, with all of that being said, let’s take a look down below and check out the following 12 Powerful Ways That Celebrities are Demanding Justice for Breonna Taylor:
1. Oprah Winfrey:
Of all the celebrities who have used their platforms to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, the one who did so in the most powerful ways was Oprah Winfrey. For the September 2020 edition of O: The Oprah Magazine, which hit newsstands on August 11, the cover (see the photo below) featured Breonna Taylor in a digital portrait drawn by the young artist Alexis Franklin.
The September 2020 edition is the first issue in the magazine’s 20-year history that did not feature Winfrey’s image on its cover. In an essay about the decision to have Taylor on the front cover, Winfrey stated that she thought about the emergency medical technician often, writing, “What I know for sure: We can’t be silent. We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice.”
In addition to having the cover of O: The Oprah Magazine featuring Breonna Taylor, Winfrey teamed up with Until Freedom to erect 26 billboards, one for each year of Taylor’s life, across Louisville with the magazine cover and a call to action which reads, “Demand that the police involved in killing Breonna Taylor be arrested and charged.”
On June 14, the Grammy-winning singer released a powerful open letter (see below) to Daniel Cameron (who is African-American), The Attorney General of Kentucky, on her website, asking for “swift and decisive action” to be taken.
The “swift and decisive action” that Beyoncé mentions in the essay is for charges to brought against Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove, the three police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s horrific death.
3. The WNBA:
The WNBA produced one of the most powerful tributes in demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. Prior to tipoff of the league’s first game of the 2020 Season, which was played on July 25 between The Seattle Storm and The New York Liberty, both team’s held a 26-second moment of silence for Taylor.
Prior to the moment of silence, one player from each team (Breanna Stewart for Seattle and Layshia Clarendon for New York) made statements (see the video below), saying that WNBA players will be “a voice for the voiceless.” The league dedicated the entire 2020 WNBA Season to Breonna Taylor. In addition, all WNBA Players will wear Taylor’s name on the back of their jerseys throughout the season.
4. Jerami Grant:
Much like their female counterparts at the WNBA, a lot of the male professional basketball players at the NBA are using their voices and platforms to promote social justice and racial issues since George Floyd’s death in late May. Throughout the NBA’s return in the Bubble in Orlando, we have seen many players dedicate portions (or entire) of their sessions with the media to steer the conversation towards social justice issues and Breonna Taylor.
This article can easily be about listing the ways how NBA Players are demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. For me, the NBA Player who did so in the most powerful way was Jerami Grant, a forward for The Denver Nuggets. Grant, who is the son of former NBA Player Harvey Grant and the nephew of four-time NBA Champion Horace Grant, responded to every question (regardless of what it was about) during his entire media session with reporters on July 15 by talking about Breonna Taylor and police brutality.
5. John Legend:
The singer penned an opinion essay on Entertainment Weekly that was released on June 5, the day that Breonna Taylor would have celebrated her 27th birthday. In his essay, Legend urged for government officials to arrest and charge the officers involved in Taylor’s death with second-degree murder. The most powerful point of Legend’s essay was the final sentence, which was, “Until elected officials create consequences for egregious and fatal police misconduct, they will continue to kill us with impunity.”
6. Kayne West:
On June 4, it was announced that West donated $2 million to the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, African-Americans who died at the hands of white people. In regards to Breonna Taylor, West offered to pay the legal fees for the her family’s civil lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Police Department. The day after the announcement, the rapper also made an appearance at a rally that took place in his native Chicago.
7. Phenomenal Woman’s T-Shirt Campaign:
August 10, 2020 marked 150 days since Breonna Taylor was fatally shot eight times in her own home by three police officers. On that same day, Phenomenal Woman, a social justice organization, released statement t-shirts (click here to purchase the T-Shirt) that featured the words “ARREST THE COPS WHO KILLED BREONNA TAYLOR” in pale pink capital letters on the front and a portrait of Taylor on the back under the words “SAY HER NAME.”
The organization noted that all proceeds will go to the Breonna Taylor Foundation, which was started by Breonna’s mother Tamika Palmer. Many celebrities showed their support for the initiative by wearing the shirt on Instagram and urging their followers to “SAY HER NAME.” Celebrities who participated in the campaign include Regina King, Samuel L. Jackson, Mandy Moore, Rachel Zoe, Brenda Song (in the photo below), and JaVale McGee, to name a few.
8. Tobias Harris:
Along with Jerami Grant, another NBA Player who has used his platform to make a powerful statement in demanding for justice for Breonna Taylor is Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris.
When asked Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook’s collaboration with the NBPA to make T-shirts with messages revolving around social justice and racial equality during his media availability on July 20, the NBA All-Star didn’t answer the question at all. Harris opted to respond with a different message instead, stating, “Nothing against the T-shirts, but we want to make sure that [Kentucky attorney general] Daniel Cameron arrests the cops and officers involved with Breonna Taylor’s death. That’s all I’ve got to say”.
9. Kenny Stills:
When it comes to social justice, police brutality, and racial issues, the Houston Texans wide receiver is one of the NFL’s most active voices. Ever since the George Floyd Protests started on May 26, Stills has been extremely active on Twitter. On July 14, Stills was among the 87 protesters arrested outside of the home of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The group of protestors occupied the front yard of the Cameron’s home demanding charges against the officers involved in Taylor’s death.
10. Porsha Williams:
Kenny Stills wasn’t the only notable name among the 87 protestors arrested outside of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s home demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. Also among the protestors who stood on the front lawn of Cameron’s home in Louisville was Real Housewives of Atlanta star Porsha Williams (on the left).
11. Selena Gomez:
Selena Gomez is one of the most followed celebrities on social media. As of August 16, her Instagram Account has the sixth-most followers, with almost 188 million followers while her Twitter Account has the fourteenth-most followers, with nearly 62 million followers.
On the latter social media site, Gomez urged her followers to sign a petition to charge the officers, writing in the June 5 tweet, “Breonna Taylor would’ve been 27 years old today. The same age I am [Gomez turned 28 on July 22]. But she was shot 8 times. Please join me in signing this petition and let’s get #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor”. As of August 16, the petition has received nearly 11 million signatures.
The rapper was among a group of celebrities who participated in a June 25 rally demanding justice for Breonna Taylor that took place at the State Capitol Building in Frankfurt, Kentucky. At the rally, Common shared a poem, which he dedicated to Taylor and “black women everywhere”. The rapper later posted the poem on his Instagram account, which you can watch below.
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We flew out to #Kentucky earlier today to demand justice for Breonna Taylor at a special rally that was organized by @UntilFreedom and Breonna’s Family. It has now been more than THREE months since she was murdered by police in her own home and still no justice. We must continue to speak out and speak up. For the rally, I wrote a poem dedicated to Breonna and Black Women everywhere. We Love you Breonna.
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