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Hundreds of demonstrators marched through Downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday night in honor of Breonna Taylor, to protest the lack of harsh charges against the Louisville officers involved in her killing and to amplify the voices of Black women.
Organizers told the crowd, which formed at Freedom Corner in the Hill District, that the night was not about agitating.
“Don’t antagonize, don’t break things,” they told the crowd. Tonight, they said, was about Taylor.
Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was shot and killed in her apartment in March when police serving a drug warrant entered the home while she and her boyfriend were in bed. Her boyfriend fired one shot, saying he believed police were intruders. Multiple officers opened fire, killing Taylor.
On Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced a grand jury failed to return indictments against the officers directly involved in Taylor’s death; rather, one officer was indicted for wanton endangerment for three shots that went through the wall into another apartment.
Taylor’s death, along with that of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May, touched off a summer of protests targeting police brutality and racism.
“We want you all to get to know each other,” Gam Craft, a prominent activist and organizer, told the crowd. “Because this is more than just marching. It’s community work.”
Craft said the night was about supporting Black women.
“I should have had the benefit of the doubt from the start,” Craft said.
They told protesters that when demonstrators act out, Black women bear the brunt of the punishment.
“If one of you steps out of line, we sit in jail because of it,” Craft said.
Dannielle Brown, who has been on hunger strike since July in a fight for what she said are real answers about the death of her son Marquis Jaylen Brown at Duquesne University, called Taylor a casualty of war.
“Blame the Black girl,” she said. “That’s what Gam is talking about when (they) say we as Black women carry the weight because we are so easy to be blamed. Casualty of war. Target on my back.”
The crowd marched to Duquesne’s campus where Brown spoke again. She said she does what she does to protect the students.
Brown’s son died in 2018 after he dove from his 16th floor dorm room. Police had been called to the room because he was acting erratically. Brown has been on hunger strike, demanding the university allow her full access to their file on her son’s death as well as buy body cameras for university police and increase crisis intervention training.
She said she constantly sees her son falling.
“My hand is stretched out to catch him all the time,” she said.
Protesters circled again at the Allegheny County Courthouse, where they remained for more than an hour.
Craft and others chastised protesters for not turning out in droves for every protest and every demonstration supporting Black people.
“We are constantly educating you. Why … did I have to bring you out here to listen?” Craft said. “I had to put Breonna Taylor’s name on this to get you all out here.”
Craft told protesters to “show up for every single one of us.”
“Do not wait until we are dead to say our name,” Craft said.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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