The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns the outcome of Kentucky’s grand jury proceedings and renews its calls for justice for Breonna Taylor. On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home by police officers executing a no-knock search warrant. The officers were acting outside of the scope of the warrant, which required them to knock and announce their presence at Taylor’s apartment, and with a wanton disrespect for human life which ultimately led to her death. Protests erupted in Kentucky—and around the world—over the summer in response to Taylor’s death, as well as in reaction to the killing of George Floyd, and state and local law enforcement have reacted with extreme force and brutality, arresting over 500 activists in Kentucky since June. On September 23, 2020, a grand jury investigation of the police killing led to the indictment of only one officer involved in the no-knock raid on three counts of wanton endangerment—in other words, not for Breonna Taylor’s death. There were no charges issued for the other two officers.
The results of the grand jury proceedings over the killing of Breonna Taylor highlight the historically unjust and uneven criminal legal system that protects the interests of white supremacy, continuing the oppression of Black and Brown lives. The NLG renews calls for an end to the racist criminal legal system, abolition of incarceration, and accountability and reparations for the countless victims of police violence. As the grand jury proceedings in the murder of Breonna Taylor show, the criminal legal system will not resolve the injustices done to Black people by its own volition. Justice will remain elusive until the police are defunded, prisons closed, and resources are reallocated to Black and Brown communities in the form of the social services, education, and economic support needed to reverse centuries of racist exploitation and oppression. It is imperative that we dismantle white supremacy and settler-colonialism in all its manifestations.
We redouble our commitment to support those demanding radical social change and we also encourage people to mourn, take care of themselves, and build with each other as we engage in this fight.
The NLG is a proud endorser of the #8toAbolition platform, which emphasizes that abolition is not only about dismantling law enforcement, but creating life-affirming systems under which everyone can thrive, rendering these old institutions obsolete. As leading scholar, activist, and abolitionist Angela Davis, who will be speaking as part of the NLG’s #Law4ThePeople Convention states, “Abolition is not primarily a negative strategy. It’s not primarily about dismantling, but it’s about re-envisioning. It’s about building anew.” The NLG unequivocally reaffirms its continued support of Black communities and all those organizing in support of abolitionist movements for liberation.
The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.