Breonna Taylor Verdict Fuels Multiple Nights Of Protests In ABQ
Protesters in Albuquerque were out multiple nights in a row after the verdict in the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor was announced September 23. A Kentucky grand jury declined to bring charges directly related to Taylor’s death after Louisville officers shot and killed her during a late-night raid on her apartment in March. On Thursday evening, the second night of protests in Albuquerque, about 50 people gathered in front of the University of New Mexico bookstore.
Black New Mexico Movement organizer Barbara Jordan addressed the crowd, invoking names of Black people who were victims of violence as helicopters circled overhead.
"Emmitt Till is a hero. Trayvon Martin is a hero. Tamir Rice is a hero. Breonna Taylor is a hero. Ans what do we do to our heroes? We honor them. And that's what we're going to do, we're going to honor our heroes," said Jordan.
The only charge filed in Taylor's case was of “wanton endangerment,” when one officer shot into Taylor’s apartment and her neighbors’ residences; NPR reports he pleaded not guilty on Monday night.
On Sept. 24, protesters marched through Albuquerque’s Nob Hill, some carrying photos of Breonna Taylor, and calling out to diners sitting on patios, some of whom raised their fists or came out and joined the chanting.
Black New Mexico Movement organizer Te Barry says the emotions driving continued protests for Black lives have shifted since the initial uprising after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
"I think at first it was more grief. We was grieving with loss. Now I think it's more hurt. We're hurt now. We're angry," said Barry. "Like I told everyone last night: don't hold back that feeling of being sad and being hurt. Let it out. Now's the time to let it out."
Members of the Brown Berets, a pro-Chicano movement that emerged in the 1960’s, joined the march in solidarity and, they said, to provide security. Michelle Martinez, a member of the Brown Berets, said the Black lives matter movement is important to all people of color.
"It is generations upon generations of them beating up on Black and Brown people," said Martinez. "And when I say 'them' I say our government, White supremacy, so I am here to stand against that. I'm here to stand up for our Black and Brown brothers and sisters."
Jordan says people need to stand up against racism in their everyday lives, beyond coming to protests.
"If you notice someone following a person of color or a Black person around in a store, say something, question it," said Jordan. "If you notice an applicant at your job that didn't get a job and they chose someone else, but you know that that person of color is clearly more qualified, question it. We have to say something every time. That's the only way we're going to make change."
Jordan says citizens have an opportunity to fight systemic racist violence at the highest levels of government when they vote on November 3. She called for people to register to vote and to request their absentee ballots or vote early.
"It has to be from the top down," she said. "We have to dismantle this system of racism. We are tired of it."
After a couple hours of marching, protestors dispersed peacefully.
On Friday night, protesters gathered to celebrate Breonna Taylor’s life in front of the UNM bookstore again. Shortly after 8 p.m., a car drove through the crowd. In a video shot by New Mexico In Depth reporter Shaun Griswold, dozens of people ran and scattered.
Griswold reported that no one was hit or injured. Albuquerque Police said in a statement that they are investigating the incident and that they were not aware that protesters planned to march that night.
On Saturday, Sept. 26, the Daily Lobo reported that UNM students led a conversation about racism in front of the La Posada Dining Hall.