Knowing that Breonna Taylor's life meant nothing to the state doesn't lessen the pain of said realization.
When word came that Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville, declared a state of emergency for the city, I already knew two things:
The grand jury's decision wouldn't sit well with the public
Law enforcement would be gearing up to stomp out any measure of civil disobedience post-grand jury decision
And then the grand jury's decision went public: only one of the three police officers who murdered Breonna while she slept would be indicted on charges; that officer was charged with three counts of first-degree "wanton endangerment", a D-class felony that carries a max of 5 years in prison.
This contemptible decision comes a week after the city of Louisville reached a $12 million-dollar settlement with Breonna Taylor's family for her death. It's bad enough Breonna's family were made to wait six months just to find out they'd get less than justice for her loss, but the charging of one officer for basically shooting through a set of patio doors and windows---NOT FOR KILLING BREONNA---rubs salt in our collective wounds. Add to this a militarized police in place to infringe violently on the public's right to assemble and express dissent, it's made clear once again that the state inflicts violence on those deemed by the state to be less than human, with the expectation of those they oppress to accept it.
There have been many losses of Black life at the hands of the police before Breonna. There have been and will more loss of Black life after her. But there's something about Breonna's death that has reposed me in a state of cynical numbness. It's a numbness that barely holds pain, anguish, and existential fatigue at bay. I already knew that Breonna's case would never get justice in a system built on injustice. I already knew Breonna's life never mattered to the state. Even knowing these things, her loss still eviscerates the soul. This is what it's like when you know the game is rigged and you have a front-row seat on seeing how rigged the game is.
How many more of us have to die like this before action is taken to make things right?
From the very USE of a 'no-knock warrant' to the KY Attorney General Daniel Coleman cooning it up for his Republican masters, refusing to bring the three officers up on murder charges, then having the AUDACITY to say Breonna's name at last month's RNC, to the police charging Breonna's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, for attempted murder for firing off his legally-purchased and licensed firearm in self-defense (only to drop said charges a month later), to the Jefferson Commonwealth Attorney's office contacting Breonna's ex-boyfriend to execute a quid-pro-quo in order to smear Breonna and create a narrative justifying her murder? This has all been done to show how little the lives of Black women mean to this country. Breonna's name and likeness have been used to promote mainstream magazine covers, Teespring, Etsy, and other merchandising avenues, and it's even a fucking meme all over social media. Yet she is still gone and nobody will face justice for her wholly-unnecessary loss of life. All the memeing, all the protesting, and for what? A charge of 'wanton endangerment', $12 million dollars of 'shut-up' money, and conservatives coming out of the woodwork to rationalize murder because of their unquestioning support of law enforcement.
Personally, I don't know where to go from here. The night of the grand jury's announcement, I couldn't sleep at all. I was tired, but not enough to drift to sleep. I thought about crying, but no tears came. I thought about screaming, but nothing came forth from my throat. I know I have to go on living, that I do have things in life I would like to do and have to do, but the ever-crushing realization that I, a Black woman with mental health issues, could be murdered in my home while in bed, and not only would my life NOT matter, that forces that caused my death would be the very same ones ready to smear my name to protect my murderers?
That burden has become quite unbearable to tote on my shoulders. I could take comfort in knowing that I'm not grieving Breonna's death alone. But that can only go so far, methinks. How are Black women processing our collective grief and existential fatigue? What avenues for doing so are at our disposal, are there any even available right now?
How many more of us have to die like this before action is taken to make things right? Or are we doomed in a Sisyphean hell zone, damned to having to climb up the hill of dead and broken Black bodies before being knocked back down and expected to try up the hill again? The thought of this conjures more existential fatigue and dread in me, but I have to ask it because we all have our breaking points. And though it seems like the general breaking point came over George Floyd's murder, I wonder if another breaking point will come, and if it does, will it be enough.
For all the things I don't know, I do know this: Breonna Taylor deserves to be alive right now. She deserves to be safe in her home with Kenneth. She deserves to still be an EMT. Breonna deserves to be with her family and her friends. She deserves to be respected in death as a human being, worthy of empathy and compassion. Breonna deserves better than what is currently being done to and in her name.