One story that has been highlighted during the Black Lives Matter protest Summer of Love is that of Breonna Taylor, a young Black woman killed by police during a no-knock search warrant raid in Louisville, Kentucky. Her death during the raid at her home has brought cries for justice from BLM protesters. They want the officers involved to be arrested and tried for her death.
Breonna Taylor’s story is tragic. She was an EMT and by all accounts a good person. Three plainclothes police officers with the Louisville Metro Police Department were involved in the raid. The story gets complicated because her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was there that night, shot at police who he thought were intruders. The LMPD officers fired over twenty shots. Taylor was shot eight times and LMPD Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly was injured by gunfire. One officer, Brett Hankison, has been terminated. The other two, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, are on administrative reassignment. Kenneth Walker was accused of attempted murder and assault. Those charges were dropped, though, on May 22. Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine announced that more investigation needs to be done.
Protests have been regular events in Louisville by those who demand justice for Breonna. By justice, they mean that the officers involved must be arrested and tried for murder from the raid that went very wrong. The protesters have even shown up at the home of Kentucky’s attorney general, a Black Republican, who promptly had the trespassers arrested. Now Oprah Winfrey has entered the fray. She has commissioned 26 billboards to be put up in Louisville. The billboards are funded by Winfrey’s magazine, “O, The Oprah Magazine”. Breonna Taylor was 26 years old.
26 billboards – for every year of life of #BreonnaTaylor erected in Louisville, KY.
Kentucky will not forget her name. We will get justice for Breonna. pic.twitter.com/rOM2bhVdAy
— untilfreedom (@untilfreedom) August 6, 2020
The billboard uses the cover of the magazine’s latest issue – the first time Oprah wasn’t on the cover in the magazine’s history – so it’s a clever marketing move, right? That Oprah is a smart businesswoman. She’ll write off her checkbook activism as a business expense. The billboards will be up for one month.
Until Freedom, a social justice organization consisting of activists, movement lawyers, artists, & survivors of racial injustice, is pleased. The organization is advertised under the magazine cover photo.
Thank you @oprahmagazine for your work on these brilliant billboards.
Together, we will make sure no one forgets #BreonnaTaylor’s name and recommit to the fight for justice for her and her family.
We got this. pic.twitter.com/ZL2SxLpaK5
— untilfreedom (@untilfreedom) August 6, 2020
As Until Freedom thanked Oprah for the financial aid and publicity, the group announced its plans to “occupy Kentucky” in Louisville. It pledged to “organize day and night to get justice” for Breonna Taylor. The entire team is moving to Louisville.
Saturday a rally was organized by Until Freedom called “From Michael Brown to Breonna Taylor”. It marked the sixth anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement. Brown, I’ll point out, died under very different circumstances. He tried to grab a police officer’s gun while they attempted to arrest him for theft. He resisted arrest and it ended in his death. The bogus “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” chant sprung from that, too. Anti-police leftists embraced the storyline that Brown was shot while raising his arms in the air, though that didn’t happen. Michael Brown Sr. joined the rally in Louisville.
“Our main goal is to convey to Daniel Cameron and all the parties involved that we take this seriously,” Pinto told The Courier Journal by phone. “This isn’t just a one-time event or action. This will be a long-term strategy until we’re able to procure justice and accountability. We believe in it that much.”
Daniel Cameron is Kentucky’s attorney general who had the trespassers on his property arrested.
It is impossible to look at this move by Oprah, all these months after the night Breonna died, and not see it with a jaded eye. Oprah has been busy taking advantage of the Summer of Love, as other Black celebrities have done, and filmed shows on her own network as well as on Apple TV+ about the BLM movement and promoting racial justice. She’s been politically involved for a long time – you may remember it was Oprah who first promoted the idea of Barack Obama running for president back when she had her old daytime television show on network television in Chicago. Now, she is jumping into the Breonna Taylor case by using her own magazine cover. As I said, she’s a savvy businesswoman. The billboards will likely sell a lot of magazines – you’ll note that a quote used in the magazine is on the billboard photo. She covered all her bases. Teaming up with a national social justice organization guarantees optimum publicity.
‘O’ magazine is “re-imaging” itself. Sales are off and it will be more digitally-oriented. It’s no coincidence that the billboards are showing up now.