Protesters In Downtown Miami Continue To Demand Change Following Grand Jury Verdict In Breonna Taylor Case
This story was updated Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 10:50 a.m.
About 100 protesters gathered in front of the Torch of Friendship on Saturday, demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. The march throughout Downtown and Brickell was organized as a response to the Kentucky grand jury’s decision to not prosecute the police officers in her death.
Taylor was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in March, during a raid on her apartment.
WLRN is here for you, even when life is unpredictable. Local journalists are working hard to keep you informed on the latest developments across South Florida. Please support this vital work. Become a WLRN member today. Thank you.
Lauren Gregorio, a 16-year-old protester, said she’s enraged by the verdict.
“There’s a lot of talk about how black women matter, but we aren't showing it,” she said. “[With] George Floyd, we protested and he got the justice that he deserved. Breonna Taylor deserves it too, so we better be out here every day until she gets it.”
Anaya Peralta, one of the organizers of the protest, said that Taylor’s case is very close to her as she was born and raised an hour away from Louisville.
“It could be me, it could be any of my best friends, my cousins, or even my daughter,” she said.
Peralta, 30, said the protest’s focus was on the handling of the case, which resulted in only one officer being charged for wanton endangerment. She said she views him as a scapegoat. Peralta hopes that the FBI or another government entity steps in.
“The fight isn’t over,” she said. “We’re going to continue to be out here and push for justice for Breonna as well as a change in the whole justice system.”
Peralta blames President Donald Trump for the division in America. She said his campaign was built on racism and his response to the past few months adds to the divisiveness he’s created.
“I’m hoping that there is a change in office,” Peralta said. “Whether we agree completely with who that particular person is, we will put pressure on them to really make a difference, as we know this current president won’t do it for us.”
Although Gregorio is not old enough to vote in the election, she pre-registered to vote in order to become a poll worker. Gregorio said one of the strong suits of her generation is highlighting social injustices through social media and pairing it with involvement in grassroots campaigns and protests.
Christian Adeleke, a 24-year-old graduate student studying social work, highlighted the importance of creating change on a local level in the elections. He noted that Miami-Dade Commissioner Esteban Bovo, who is running for Miami-Dade County mayor, had voted not to reinstate a police oversight panel. Although the ordinance for the panel passed, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who is challenging Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, vetoed it. Adeleke said these are the things voters should keep in mind come November.
“I just don’t understand how someone can be against accountability and transparency,” he said.
Although the focus was on Taylor, protesters like Adeleke were also advocating for changes in social structures that would benefit Black lives, such as an increase in minimum pay and a relief package for the pandemic.
“We still haven't gotten [that] from the Senate, but they are willing to shove through an anti-LGBT, anti-choice nominee before they even knew who she was,” Adeleke said. “I just don't understand how they can prioritize that over people that are dying.”
Adeleke said there’s a complete disregard for Black life in America, which is why he is still protesting with the same ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign he has had since the protests for George Floyd. Adeleke said that although Saturday’s crowd was relatively small, he believes protesting still makes a difference.
“There’s not that many people here, but people are still angry,” he said. “They’re still upset. They’re still scared … Us coming here consistently is more important than a huge show out every time. We’re going to stop when [police brutality] stops.”