Breonna Taylor would have turned 27 years old on Friday. She may have had a socially distant birthday party over Zoom, like so many have found themselves doing in a time like this. Loved ones may have driven by her apartment, honking and wishing her well as is the other option these days. Or she may have had a quiet night in with her boyfriend. But none of that will happen, because the Louisville woman life was cut short March 13, 2020, when she was shot and killed by police while she was sleeping in her apartment.
Though the celebrated EMT isn't here to see another year, she and all the potential she held is not forgotten, Los Angeles-based writer and culture critic Cate Young told Inside Edition Digital. And to honor her memory, Young launched the hashtag "BirthdayForBreonna," a social media initiative to help keep attention on her case as well as make sure her name doesn’t slip from headlines.
“I decided to do this because I was upset that her story was quickly falling out of the news cycle and the protests are made in George Floyd’s name, there were other people who were killed at the hands of the police,” she said.
In just a few days, hundreds of people have joined the #BirthdayForBreonna movement. Famous names like Kerry Washington, Busy Phillips, La La Anthony, have helped amplify the cause by posting the hashtag and initiative on social media.
“I could never imagine it would get as big as this ... I have never organized anything like this before," Young said.
Young also encourages people to use the hashtag "SayHerName" as another way to help keep Taylor’s name in the spotlight.
“We have a specific media narrative that black men die at the hands of people, and that is true, but it also occurs to women,” she said. “#SayHerName only exists because we keep erasing women's stories. It was a response that women were being left out in the stories of police killings.”
June 5 also happens to be Young's mother’s birthday, so she took it as a sign that she should and could launch an initiative but is surprised that it has turned into an online movement.
“This particular movement, it feels different and this was a way to strike while the iron is hot,” she explained. “This feels different and I feel that white people have found the same rage that black people have always had inside them. This gave them something to do and channel that energy.”
Young never met Taylor, only learning her story after reading what happened on March 13. Early that night, police armed with a no-knock warrant used a battering ram to enter Taylor's apartment as part of a narcotics investigation, according to court documents obtained by the Louisville-Courier Journal.
It was announced last month that the FBI is now investigating Taylor's death.
Taylor's family has filed a lawsuit against three officers with the department, alleging Taylor and her boyfriend were home in bed and thought they were being burglarized when officers showed up at their home after midnight. Walker allegedly opened fire on cops with his licensed weapon and one officer was shot in the leg, police said. The lawsuit says police then fired more than 20 round into the home “blindly.”
Louisville police claim they knocked on Taylor’s door several times while executing their warrant before entering and identified themselves as police before they were “immediately met by gunfire,” according to Lt. Ted Eidem.
Neighbors of Taylor and Walker, however, said police did not identify themselves, according to the family’s lawsuit.
Walker called 911 during the ordeal and police informed him he’d shot an officer.
Neither Taylor nor Walker were the investigation's target. Police had suspected, though, that Taylor’s home was used by another person to receive drugs. Neither Taylor nor Walker had any criminal history and no drugs were located in the home.
Walker, 27, had been charged with assault and attempted murder on a police officer. Walker had previously pleaded not guilty and been released to "home incarceration” before a judge dismissed his case last month.
Young's work to bring attention to Taylor's name has led to her connecting with Taylor's sister, who painted a fuller pictured of who Taylor was. She shared Taylor's favorite colors were purple and blue, her favorite television show was “Martin,” her favorite artists were NBA Young Boy and Rod Wave and her favorite song was “My Everything,” by Mary J. Blidge.
Knowing more about Taylor as a person further drove Young to make sure others did as well.
“She deserves justice," she said.
While Young cannot join the protest marches because coronavirus could especially affect her compromised immune system, she's doing as much as she can at home, noting others can, too. She set up a website where people can take various action from home.
“Even if you do one thing, it is still a big thing,” she said.