Utahns Gather Across The State To Honor Breonna Taylor After Only One Officer Charged
From Salt Lake City to St. George, Utahns gathered to protest and remember Breonna Taylor. The events came just hours after a Kentucky grand jury charged just one officer involved in the shooting and killing of Breonna Taylor. The two other officers connected with the shooting, Sgt. John Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove, were not charged at all.
Former Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired for his role in Taylor’s killing, was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing into neighboring apartments, not shooting Taylor. That led to protests in Louisville and a vigil and rally in Salt Lake City and a Black Lives Matter march in St. George.
About 50 people showed up to a mural of Taylor near downtown Salt Lake City and filled the air with chants of “protect Black women” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Wednesday night’s vigil was calm and used as a moment for healing. Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, invited residents who felt comfortable to share their stories and experiences with racism. Community leaders, as they have at protests and rallies since May, urged people to make a difference at the ballot box this November.
Mina Sadoon arrived at the mural a few hours early and paid her respects.
“It’s hard because Breonna didn’t do anything,” Sadoon said while fighting back tears. “She was sleeping just like I was last night, just like you were last night, and she didn’t get to wake up. So it’s hard because it could be any of us at any time and I just want to make sure she gets as much justice as we can all give her.”
In St. George, a few people gathered outside a restaurant on the city’s main road. Diamond Sluka is a member of the Southern Utah Black Lives Matter chapter and said when she heard the verdict, she was so angry she wanted to cry.
“I am a Black woman. I am a service member. I am a CNA. I have had police show up at my house because I’ve been vocal,” Sluka said. “The fear is that that could happen to me one day. It’s very real. I could be Breonna Taylor.”
Black Lives Matter Salt Lake City also plans to hold a vigil Thursday at 7 p.m. at Taylor’s mural. Ashley Finley, one of the chapter’s founders, asked for only people of color to show up to the event, asking allies and white counterparts to give them a space to grieve. She said the decision from the grand jury not to hold any of the officers involved accountable hurts.
“We didn’t expect it to be different, but we tried to remain hopeful,” Finley posted on Facebook. “The news made us realize that Black people need a safe space to grieve. We need to be able to mourn thoroughly and authentically. It’s absurd that a Black woman is killed in her own bed and America expects us to keep going.”
Elaine Clark contributed to this reporting.