Breonna Taylor travesty must renew focus on the racist drug war

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Breonna Taylor travesty must renew focus on the racist drug war

2 October 2020

By Natalie Papillion / FilterMag

The grand jury’s decision in the Breonna Taylor case is infuriating. It was also, perhaps, inevitable.

While scholars will spend years debating whether a single indictment for “wanton endangerment”—for imperiling Taylor’s neighbors, not her—was a technically correct interpretation of Kentucky law, the grand jury’s decision fell far short of anything nearing meaningful accountability.

Of course their conclusion would likely have been different had the victim not been Black. We must continue to fight the racism that helped to drive this injustice, and work to rid our country of the bigotry that all-but-ensured this indefensible outcome.

Many individuals share the blame. It’s clear the cops involved in the “drug raid” acted with “extreme indifference to the value of human life,” as wanton endangerment is defined. Their superiors are also at fault—both for obtaining the legally questionable warrant and for the egregiously irresponsible way the officers delivered it. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s decision to mislead the grand jury and deliberately withhold information from the public should also be criticized.

The circumstances surrounding Taylor’s murder dispels the myth of “a few bad apples.” But it’s also critical we acknowledge culpability extends far past the spoiled bunch. Law enforcement’s institutional rot isn’t the only thing at fault.

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