Hundreds gather in Denver to protest Breonna Taylor grand jury outcome

Woman sustains minor injuries after driver accelerates through group of protesters in front of the Capitol

By: - September 24, 2020 11:36 am

Protesters gathered in front of the Colorado Capitol Building after marching downtown on Sep. 24, 2020. (Moe Clark, Colorado Newsline)

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Colorado Capitol at 6 p.m. on Wednesday following a grand jury announcement in Kentucky that two of the three Louisville police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death would not face criminal charges.

“Today wasn’t justice. That’s not what justice looks like,” Shenika Carter, a community activist with the organization Caravan for Racial Justice, said with tears rolling down her cheeks as she spoke to the crowd gathered in Denver. 

Taylor, who was Black, was killed while she was sleeping in her bed on March 13 after Louisville, Kentucky, officers entered her home using a “no knock” warrant and opened fire during a mishandled narcotics raid.

Shenika Carter, a community activist with the organization Caravan for Racial Justice, speaks to a crowd gathered outside the Colorado Capitol on Wednesday Sep. 24, 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

Former Louisville officer Brett Hankison, who was fired in June, is facing three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, a felony charge, not for killing Taylor, but for shooting into her neighbors’ home. The two other officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, are not facing charges. 

“We deserve better. Breonna deserves better,” Jordan Cain, an organizer for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, said to the crowd. “Justice can never truly be served because she is dead, but the closest thing that we can get is a total divestment from everything that allowed this to happen.”

We deserve better. Breonna deserves better.

– Jordan Cain, organizer for the Party for Socialism and Liberation

Before the march commenced, Cain read off the demands from Black Lives Matter leaders in Louisville, which included immediately firing and revoking the pensions of the officers who “murdered” Taylor; divesting from the Louisville Police Department and investing in the community; the immediate resignation of Louisville’s mayor; and the creation of an independent community police accountability council.

The grand jury announcement in Kentucky came the same day as Colorado’s 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler announced that the driver of a Jeep who drove through the path of protesters blocking Interstate 225 in Aurora in July won’t face charges

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Colorado Capitol on Sept. 23, 2020, following a grand jury announcement in Kentucky that two of the three Louisville police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death would not face criminal charges. Black men were asked by organizers to surround and protect Black women as they spoke to the crowd. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

State Rep. Leslie Herod, a Denver Democrat, stressed that the injustices occurring in Louisville are the same ones happening in Colorado.

“In Colorado, people are dying at the hands of law enforcement,” she said. “In Colorado, DAs refuse to prosecute murderers. And in Denver right now, we have a police helicopter circling us, instead of circling the murderers of Elijah McClain.”

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Last week, six demonstrators who helped organize protests throughout July demanding justice for Elijah McClain, a Black man who died after an encounter with Aurora police in August 2019, were arrested and charged with felonies.

After a handful of speakers addressed the crowd, protesters took to the streets around 7:15 and marched downtown, stopping along the way to chant, share a moment of silence for Taylor and to listen to more speakers.

The peaceful protest formally concluded around 9 p.m. back at the Capitol, where organizers of the event encouraged participants to get home safely. Around 9:15, a woman sustained minor injuries after the driver of a silver vehicle accelerated through a small group of lingering protesters in front of the Capitol building. One male was detained, according to the Denver Police Department’s Twitter.

Hundreds marched through downtown Denver on Sept. 23, 2020, after a grand jury in Kentucky announced that two of the three Louisville police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death would not face criminal charges. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

Speakers throughout the event called for change and the reimagining of the racist systems that are in place that disproportionately affect Black people and communities of color.

“We say we need to tear things down, brick by brick and rebuild them brick by brick. We’re not talking about an actual brick and mortar building. We’re talking about a system,” Lindsay Minter, a community activist, said to the crowd. “We are talking about an establishment that wasn’t made for us. That doesn’t work for us. That does not reflect us and that will never give justice to us.”

Karen Roberts Grissom, who is helping to organize a March for Black Women on Sept. 29, encouraged the crowd, especially white people, to continue showing up in support of Black lives.

“When we did the last March for Black Women, it was about this many people,” Grissom said, gesturing to the crowd of a few hundred. “I was invited to speak the following year, at the Women’s March, you know, the pink hat ladies. There were 150,000 people that I spoke in front of. There should be that many people here.”

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Moe Clark
Moe Clark

Reporter Moe Clark covers criminal justice, housing and homelessness, and other social issues for Colorado Newsline.

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