The Wednesday decision by a Kentucky grand jury to indict a single of the three officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor was met with swift criticism among celebrities and activists.
Louisville, Ky., detective Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into neighboring apartments in connection to the police raid. The grand jury did not proceed with charges against any officers directly involved in Taylor’s death, which occurred on the night of March 13 when officers entered her Louisville home during a narcotics investigation.
But the Wednesday decision was not enough, said Oscar winner Viola Davis. “BLACK LIVES MATTER!!! Cannot be said enough times,” she tweeted.
Other celebrities voiced their dissatisfaction with the grand jury decision during a time of increased racial tension in the U.S. and divisiveness going into November’s presidential election. The general sentiment was that the charge proved that Black lives do not matter.
“Westworld” star Jeffrey Wright called for the state to “change the laws,” and “Saturday Night Live” star Chris Redd expressed disbelief, begging to “make it make sense.”
Yara Shahidi, star of the TV show “grown-ish,” was among the many who were disappointed and infuriated that the charges brought Wednesday had nothing to do with Taylor’s death, “but to the POTENTIAL injury of other people in the apartment” complex.
"The charges..said Hankison 'wantonly shot a gun' into 3(!!) apartments..grand jury did not find that Hankison wantonly fired into Taylor's apt...
Mattingly, Cosgrove & Hankison fired more than two dozen rounds..she was hit 5 times."
No charges for killing her. Change the laws! https://t.co/BOgYtW6WcP— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) September 23, 2020
Wanton endangerment?!? Is that when somebody with bad balance eats a bowl of Wanton Soup walking up a very steep hill..right after they murder but aren’t charged for it?
Make it make sense! #Breonnataylordeservedbetter— Chris Redd (@Reddsaidit) September 23, 2020
What is most insulting is that the recommended charges aren't even in response to the MURDER of Breonna Taylor, but to the POTENTIAL injury of other people in the apartment.....— Yara shahidi (@YaraShahidi) September 23, 2020
Taylor was shot six times, with the fatal shot being fired by Officer Myles Cosgrove, Kentucky Atty. Gen. Daniel Cameron said Wednesday during a news conference. He added that Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly were justified in their use of force to protect themselves after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired at them.
Cameron, who delivered the news to Taylor’s family earlier Wednesday, was emotional during the news conference. But the Republican special prosecutor in the case, who is Black, was promptly blasted by #OscarsSoWhite founder April Reign and “Scandal” star Kerry Washington. They noted that Cameron is on President Donald Trump’s short list of replacements for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Daniel Cameron is on Donald Trump’s short list as replacement of #RGB on the Supreme Court. The same man who decided to not charge the officers responsible for killing #BreonnaTaylor. Vote.— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) September 23, 2020
“They never get it right and that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Breonna Taylor should still be with us and her family deserved justice today. Tired of this s—,” tweeted Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry.
Cameron characterized Taylor’s death as “a tragedy,” but criticized celebrities, influencers and activists “who don’t understand” his state or its laws for speaking out about it to influence the case. Some of those celebrities include TV titan Oprah Winfrey, whose namesake magazine bought billboards across Louisville to demand justice for Taylor.
Louisville was preparing for more protests and possible unrest as the public awaited Wednesday’s decision.
Here’s a look at how others reacted to the news.
God bless Breonna’s family and all who knew and loved her. Her tragic death compounded by the violence of silence and inaction by the city she called home is more than any of them should have to endure. https://t.co/fcDmIWHlDS— Ava DuVernay (@ava) September 23, 2020
It’s all kind of numbing. On one hand it’s like I KNOW I’m not crazy there’s a real problem in our country. On the other I’m sad that everyone doesn’t see it and some don’t want to. Of course I know God is at work. It’s just tough to process it all. #BreonnaTaylor https://t.co/b1ALKdkRS3— Lecrae (@lecrae) September 23, 2020
In 2020 all black people are asking is for white America to stop killing us.
"That's a little too much to ask right now," America said as it shrugged and reloaded her guns. "Can you circle back in another 50 years?"— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) September 23, 2020
If you don’t know what Wanton Endangerment means, look it up. In a nutshell, the 1 officer charged with it is NOT getting charged for KILLING #BreonnaTaylor - his charge is for potentially harming and endangering NEIGHBORS and others around while firing bullets. WTF.— Kayla Braxton (@KaylaBraxtonWWE) September 23, 2020
Praying for Breonna’s mother and family. Because they knew and loved her before her name became a hashtag.— Be A King (@BerniceKing) September 23, 2020
Breonna Taylor is not listed as a victim in this idictment. The wanton endangerment is for the bullets entering other peoples apartments through the walls. The initials of the victims listed did not include BT.
This indictment ignores the murder of #BreonnaTaylor.— Gregg Housh (@GreggHoush) September 23, 2020
Always remember: the reason these officers so rarely get charged, let alone convicted, is because killing us is LEGAL. They can almost always find a way to justify it that the law will accept. #BreonnaTaylor— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) September 23, 2020
The problem with racism is not that people know it exists and are being trained on how to do better. The problem with racism is racism. And today, tragically, makes that all the more clear.— Kimberlé Crenshaw (@sandylocks) September 23, 2020