Reflections on Honoring Breonna Taylor’s Memory
Breonna Taylor: civil servant, emergency medical technician, friend, sister, and daughter.
March 13 marks the first anniversary of her death. She was shot and killed in her home by members of the Louisville Metro Police Department. Working on a no-knock warrant, three plainclothes police officers entered Taylor’s home, interrupted her sleep and murdered her.
According to Ben Crump, an attorney supporting the family, “They had the wrong address AND their real suspect was already in custody.” Three officers were fired in connection with the raid, and one, Brett Hankison, was charged with wanton endangerment for bullets that allegedly entered a neighboring apartment. It wasn’t until two months after her death that the national media began to provide any information on her tragic murder. The details surrounding and leading up to Breonna Taylor’s death are disturbing and unsettling. When I heard about the No Knock Warrant, I was surprised to discover such a law even existed.
The more I learned about the events of that heart-wrenching night, the more I found myself in deep reflection. Then, and even now, I continually wonder what can be done to ensure that what happened to Breonna Taylor does not happen to another human being. In Lean, this deep reflection is referred to as Hansei. ”Han” means to change, turn over, or turn upside down. “Sei” means to look back upon, review, and examine oneself.
As a result of what happened to Breonna Taylor, there is a need to be intentional about changing and improving the justice system.
Turn it over.
Turn it inside out.
Turn it upside down.
Turn it around.
In June 2020, the Louisville, Kentucky Metro Council unanimously passed Breonna’s Law. This new legislation bans no-knock warrants in Jefferson County and expands police use of body cameras. While this is a start, there remains a need to review laws and policies that allow police brutality to thrive without consequence.
The demand for #JusticeForBreonna still stands. And it’s more than just a hashtag. It serves as an ongoing reminder of the work needed to determine the root causes of police brutality so we can eliminate it from our society.
The purpose of the #RootCauseRacism movement is to apply continuous improvement methodologies and to share meaningful ways to dismantle structural racism. In the spirit of the movement, I offer two small actions to honor Breonna Taylor’s memory. We must say her name and strive for change.
Say Her Name.
We must continue to say her name – Breonna Taylor. We must say her name as a reminder to broaden the perspective and raise awareness of what it means to be vulnerable to anti-Black police violence. We must say her name as a reminder to look back and review what happened, never to allow this tragic history to repeat itself.
Strive For Change.
"As Ms. Tamika Palmer said, after the passing of Breonna's Law (in Louisville), banning or restricting no-knock warrants will allow Breonna to do what she wanted to do: save human lives.”
In the spirit of continuous improvement, we must strive for change and initially recognize the problem.
There is a significant gap between the expectations of police reform compared to the current state. Despite the House passage of police reform legislation -- first last summer and again this month -- the bill, named after George Floyd, has not passed the Senate. The legislation would ban chokeholds and makes it easier to pursue police misconduct claims.
Sweeping reform over the last year has largely been elusive. Congress is limited in what it can impose on local police departments, even if it found the political will. Federal legislators were unable to agree on change last summer, when attention was greatest and calls for reform the loudest.
Indeed, there is no simple or easy path to national reform, but we cannot allow that to discourage the pursuit of change.
Lastly, we must develop a plan to address the problem. We must push for significant policy change and police reform. This entails getting educated, organized and becoming involved in local politics.
While no-knock warrants are banned in Jefferson County, Kentucky, the ultimate goal is to get them banned at the state and federal levels. Click here to find the representatives and senators for your state. Call or write them today, asking that they support the ban of no-knock warrants.
On this day of remembering and honoring Breonna Taylor’s life, let us say her name and continuously strive for change.
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Deondra Wardelle is a Senior-level Training and Development Executive. She has proven expertise in Strategic Growth Initiatives, Organizational and Leadership Development, and Lean Six Sigma Implementation. Deondra has a track record of success in being a catalyst for change and a driver of results, driven to improve processes and operations. She is an astute business strategist who is driven, engaging, collaborative and results-focused. An inspirational leader who serves as a strategic business partner, cultural change steward and operational expert. Effectively lead change management process strategies that facilitate organizational transformation and increase overall capabilities. Possesses an inclusive management style that encourages idea sharing and inspires exceptionalism in others. Proven ability to design and deliver a comprehensive range of learning solutions which produce measurable results.