FRANKFORT, Ky. — A woman wearing a "Breonna Taylor" face mask walked up the first few steps in front of the Kentucky State Capitol early Tuesday evening.
What You Need To Know
- Supporters of "Breonna's Law," or House Bill 21, traveled to state Capitol on Tuesday
- Bill was prefiled by Rep. Attica Scott in August, aims to outlaw no-knock warrants
- Similar bill from Senate President Robert Stivers would limit when police could utilize no-knock warrants; It passed through Senate
- Breonna Taylor's family included in those who traveled to the Capitol
She raised a sequin-covered bullhorn to her mouth and looked below at a crowd of a few dozen who had just parked their cars in the street and gotten out.
"I love being Black!" she chanted loudly into the device.
"I love being Black!" the gathered echoed in time.
"I said, I love being Black!" she repeated, to the same response. It's a proud declaration — carrying more weight and history than four simple words — heard countless times throughout the streets of Louisville over the past eight months. In that period, rarely has it reached the walls of a largely conservative, overwhelmingly white state legislature.
They came to demand the two chambers of that body pass House Bill 21 into law. Known as "Breonna's Law," it has collected dust in the Capitol since being prefiled on Aug. 13, 2020, by state Rep. Attica Scott, a Democrat from Louisville.
Scott greeted the throng but claimed she did not organize the rally.
"They were willing to come here — drive to their house, the people’s house — to raise their voices and send a strong message to the legislative body that they haven’t given up," Scott said in an interview with Spectrum News 1. "That they’re still working for Breonna’s Law, for Kentucky."
Scott described frustration over the status of her bill compared to that of a similar bill put forth by Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester). Stivers' bill, Senate Bill 4, achieves some goals resembling the verbiage of HB 21. It would limit when police could utilize no-knock warrants — the type of warrant used during the raid on Breonna Taylor's apartment on March 13, 2020.
"This is for the safety of the officers. It is for the safety of the individuals who are being sought by this warrant and for bystanders," he said during a hearing on the day SB 4 passed unanimously through the Senate.
But it does not outlaw no-knock warrants completely, as HB 21 aims to do. Scott also noted that her bill alone calls for drug and alcohol screenings for officers involved in serious incidents.
One key element is also missing from SB 4: a single mention of Taylor.
Stivers did name Taylor during a February interview with Spectrum News 1. He said his bill would prevent what happened to her from happening to others in Kentucky. But, for Scott and her constituents who made the trip to Frankfort on Tuesday, including Taylor's mother Tamika Palmer, the bill is deeply personal.
"Even past this law, we still ain’t got justice, so there's so much work to do," said Palmer, who reached a landmark settlement with the city last year. But none of the officers involved in the raid on Taylor's apartment face charges directly related to her death.
The process of these particular bills also rubs Scott the wrong way.
"What political privilege looks like is the white [sic] Senate President gets a bill that he filed the day before the filing deadline heard within four days, passed out of committee, passed off the Senate floor, never once did he say her name, and we’re still waiting for a hearing," she said.
Both HB 21 and SB 4 have been sent to the House judiciary committee for consideration, with SB 4 having passed through one body of the legislature already. Scott expects her bill to be heard early next week.
Tuesday's crowd decided to get back in their vehicles shortly after sundown and drive the loop around the Capitol, saying they wanted any remaining legislators in the building to hear their horns and voices.
Scott hopes her bill brings with it accountability, and some of the justice those voices have been calling for since that night in March.