A demonstrator holds a sign with the image of Breonna Taylor
Photo: Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images
#SayHerName: Alicia Keys, Lizzo, Janet Jackson, Janelle Monáe And More Honor Breonna Taylor On Her Birthday, Demand Justice
Several artists and entertainers are honoring Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker who was killed by white police officers in Louisville, Ky., in March, by speaking out on social media and demanding justice for her killing.
On Friday (June 5), which would have been the slain victim's 27th birthday, Alicia Keys, Lizzo, Janet Jackson, Janelle Monáe, Gary Clark, Jr., Yola and several others took to social media to show their support for Taylor, with many sharing resources and links to petitions calling for the arrests of and charges against the police officers involved in her killing; the police officers in question, who have not been arrested or fired or charged with a crime, are currently placed on administrative leave, The New York Times reports.
In a video post shared on Instagram, Alicia Keys sang "Happy Birthday," inserting Taylor's first name into the song. In the caption accompanying the post, the singer indicated she would be making "more calls today in honor" of Taylor and encouraged her fans to do the same. She also shared links to resources in support of Taylor's case as well as groups like Black Lives Matter.
"She should be alive to celebrate! But instead no charges have been issued and no arrests have been made with the officers involved," Keys wrote in the post's caption.
Lizzo shared a custom image on her Instagram page that asked for people to call several Kentucky officials, including Gov. Andy Beshear and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, and demand for the firing of the police officers involved in Taylor's killing; the post also called for the police officers to be charged with manslaughter and negligence.
"She should be here," Lizzo said of Taylor in the post's caption. "Instead she was murdered by police in what they're calling a 'clerical error'. They barged into her home without knocking and shot her in her sleep. She worked for us during the covid pandemic, she was an innocent civilian. SAY HER NAME. DEMAND JUSTICE ON HER BIRTHDAY. NO ARRESTS HAVE BEEN MADE."
This week, Lizzo, Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez all opened their social media platforms to Black groups in an initiative aimed at amplifying Black voices and pushing conversations about race relations and progress to the fore.
Who Is Breonna Taylor?
Breonna Taylor was killed March 13 when Louisville police executed a no-knock warrant to crash into her apartment by use of a battering ram, according to The New York Times. The police, who were investigating two suspects believed to be "selling drugs out of a house that was far from Ms. Taylor's home," the newspaper writes, fired several shots into Taylor's apartment; she was struck at least eight times.
The police officers involved in the incident say they fired inside the home after being fired upon first by Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was subsequently charged with attempted murder of a police officer, The New York Times reports; Walker's charges were dropped last month.
While Taylor's killing occurred months ago, tensions surrounding her death, sparked by the lack of arrests of the officers involved, have been rising across Louisville and Kentucky over the past few weeks.
Last month (May 28), seven people were shot while attending a Louisville protest calling for police accountability in Taylor's killing, The New York Times reports. Two days later (May 30), the city's mayor, Greg Fischer, implemented a dusk-to-dawn curfew and called in the National Guard for future protests surrounding Taylor's killing, according to The (Louisville) Courier-Journal. This week (June 1) in Louisville, the police and the National Guard killed local restaurant owner David McAtee when they confronted curfew violators, according to The New York Times.
Last month (May 21), the FBI opened an investigation into Taylor's killing, while the slain victim's mother, Tamika Palmer, filed a lawsuit against the three officers involved in the incident, accusing them of wrongfully causing her daughter's death, The New York Times reports.
Nationwide Protests And Online Dialogues
Taylor's killing is part of a larger wave of recent killings of several Black U.S. citizens, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others, which have collectively sparked nationwide protests over the past two weeks.
These recent incidents have also resurfaced tensions and conversations surrounding racial inequality in dealing with police: Majorities of Black and white adults say Black people are treated less fairly than white people in dealing with police and by the criminal justice system as a whole, according to a 2019 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.
Many people online, however, have pointed out that Taylor's killing has not gained the same national attention when compared to the likes of Floyd and Arbery, which has lead social media users to employ the #SayHerName hashtag to spread awareness of her story over the last week.
On Thursday (June 4), in a tweet mentioning Taylor's killing, Sen. Kamala Harris wrote, "The officers who murdered Breonna Taylor nearly three months ago still have not been charged. We can't forget about Black women in our quest for justice."
In a recent post on The New York Times' In Her Words newsletter and column, gender reporter Alisha Haridasani Gupta wrote, "The exclusion of Breonna Taylor's name is the latest iteration of a longstanding issue: Black women's experiences of police brutality and their tireless contributions to mass social justice movements have almost always been left out of the picture, receiving far less media or political attention."
Below, see some of the artists, entertainers and celebrities who are honoring Breonna Taylor on her birthday today.