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September 23, 2020
YWCA USA continues to extend our hearts to Breonna Taylor’s family, and the millions who signed petitions, engaged in thoughtful discussions through social media, and worked tirelessly to claim justice for a Black woman who was killed while asleep in her own home. Although one officer has been indicted in Breonna Taylor’s case, the charges announced today against former officer Brett Hankison do not meet the gravity of the crime committed.
As we document in We Still Deserve Safety: Renewing the Call to End the Criminalization of Women and Girls of Color, Breonna’s death is representative of a crisis for women and girls of color that is truly national in scale. Our courts and judicial system must hold people accountable when they act with such disregard for human life. While we continue to believe that the justice system plays a critical role in our nation, the decision to indict Officer Hankison only for reckless behavior, and the failure to indict any officers for their role in Breonna’s death, points to flaws in our system that must be addressed.
We recognize that there is still work to be done in re-examining laws and policies that disproportionately impact the Black community and perpetuate centuries of inequality. As we work to fulfill our mission to eliminate racism, YWCA encourages all individuals to become civically engaged and work with community groups, educators, faith institutions, and legislators to closely examine our social and moral commitments toward the next generation. We also call upon policymakers at all levels to implement our recommendations for ending the criminalization of women and girls of color — recommendations that would have protected Breonna and many others from police violence and brutality.
We must not let this moment pass, but instead, use the current momentum in our country to work to change the landscape for equality and justice under the law. We must work to continue to end the biases and injustices that plague our nation by voting and demanding systemic and institutional changes to a criminal justice system that continues to have a disparate impact on Black Americans.
The decision in the Breonna Taylor case and the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes clear that our pursuit for justice and civil rights must continue until justice just is.