LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Sunday a brunch in Louisville called “The People’s Empowerment Brunch” was hosted to honor the legacy of Breonna Taylor.
At the Black Jockeys Lounge, leaders and activists who may have spoken or marched the day prior, on the first anniversary of Taylor’s death, came together for the event hosted in part by Louisville organizer, artist, and entrepreneur Aaron Jordan to help them refresh and have candid conversations.
“A lot of folks are tired. A lot of folks are getting weary, and we have to at times re-channel and re-center our energy and refocus and remember why we came to the streets in the first place,” said Jordan. He is the founder and CEO of Black Complex, a co-working space to help Black-led organizations. He’s also the co-founder of No Justice No Peace Louisville that’s worked to fight for justice for Taylor during protests.
Jordan said the movement going forward needs to focus on policy and holding leadership accountable.
“We need the folks that we’ve put into office to understand that we won’t put you in office again if there’s not a clear, concrete Black agenda that has tangible results,” Jordan said. However, he also said there still needs to be protests in the streets.
“It’s a show of solidarity. It’s a show of strength. It’s a display of togetherness and community, and it also, again, creates awareness about the issues that are happening in the city.”
Louisville activist Tiff Johnson who was at Sunday’s brunch has been marching since the protests started in Louisville last year.
“The movement is always a continuous thing because, regardless, if you are protesting or out in the streets, we are still doing things for the community. We are giving back. So that’s where I see the movement moving to…really just reaching more into the community and continuing that way,” Johnson said. She highlighted that giving back would look like providing food, medical, and housing security to uplift the Black community.
Sunday’s brunch featured speakers like Las Vegas Aces WNBA player, Angel McCoughtry, who played college basketball at the University of Louisville. McCoughtry championed the WNBA to put Breonna Taylor’s name on their jerseys. She said she sees the movement growing.
“So we want to bring light to every story, and we want those families to heal so it doesn’t keep happening,” McCoughtry told Spectrum News 1. She also said the main goal is to have a better America, a safer America.
Linda Sarsour, the co-founder of New York City-based social justice organization Until Freedom, which helped organize the speakers and march in Louisville, said the movement now demands Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine to investigate the case of Taylor being fatally shot by the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) on March 13, 2020.
“So that means that we have to continue to build the pressure on Tom Wine to do his job,” Sarsour said.
Wine initially recused himself from investigating LMPD for shooting Breonna Taylor because he was investigating and charging her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. Walker shot and wounded police Sgt. Jon Mattingly who was involved in the raid that resulted in Taylor’s death last year. Walker said he thought an intruder was breaking in. Walker’s charges were permanently dismissed last Monday.
In a statement Thursday, Wine stated in part, “The Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney does not plan to present this matter to another grand jury as long as there is a pending federal investigation. To do so would create a risk of inconsistent results and recommendations and potentially hinder rather than advance justice in this case.”
Wine was referring to the investigation that is still ongoing by the FBI and the United States Department of Justice, which is looking at violations of federal civil rights from what happened on March 13, 2020.
Sarsour said the movement will also focus on current legislation in Kentucky, such as Senate Bill 211, which aims to make taunting or insulting a police officer a crime, which Sarsour said is still freedom of speech.
Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Benton), who sponsored the bill, has claimed the bill is not designed to stop peaceful protests.
Sarsour also said Until Freedom will make sure people are still engaged in elections.
“Black and brown communities have proven that they have electoral power. We won the state of Georgia based on the organizing of the Black and brown voters, and we believe we can do the same here in Kentucky,” Sarsour told Spectrum News 1.
Jordan calls the movement a revolution.
“And that means it’s not over today. It’s not over tomorrow,” he said.