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Despite a disturbing spike in coronavirus cases in Texas and nationwide last month, tubers took to Texas’s Comal River in New Braunfels on June 25. Officials are now blaming young people and their failure to socially distance this summer for the increases. | AP Turbulent reopenings and partisan mask wars have only highlighted the nation’s preoccupation with personal liberty above all — even a deadly pandemic. For months, it’s been clear that the world has separated into two camps: the rule followers, observant of social distancing and hopeful of quashing the pandemic; and the risk takers, who have been storming the nation’s beaches, bars, and burger joints in spite of the coronavirus — and public health efforts to curtail its spread. Some states, such as New York, have contained new cases, but others, including Texas and Arizona, brazenly reopened even as cases continued to rise,unleashing a torrent of pent-up partiers. Now, even as an illusion of normalcy has slowly returned, rates of infection are reaching new records, with cases surging in dozens of states. The US is “going in the wrong direction,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and frequent face of the Trump administration’s virus response, warned senators recently. In March, the new virus pushed dozens of countries to implement strict isolation methods to prevent a global health crisis. In China, coronavirus measures were hard to evade, as authorities sealed apartment buildings and scanned millions for rising body temperatures. But in the United States, these restrictions have been harder to devise and enforce, mostly because democratic norms and a strong sense of individual liberty prevail. So, instead, the crisis has exposed humanity’s tendency to flout the rules. Masks — although recommended by federal and world health officials as effective in slowing the virus’s spread — have become a polarizing symbol of this dangerous phenomenon. In recent weeks, protesters have descended on government buildings and private businesses to decry face-covering requirements, calling them “muzzles” and “communist.” In one viral video, a maskless Florida man shoved a Walmart employee who tried to enforce the store’s face-covering policy. In another, a woman at a California Trader Joe’s screamed at employees and customers after others in the store criticized her for shopping without a mask. Some scofflaws have taken to brandishing sham cards from a phony “Freedom to Breathe Agency” that purportedly exempt them from mask-wearing. Adding fuel to this fire, officials say, are the multitudes of young people determined to socialize. Some have tried to pin the problem on the Black Lives Matter protests that have continued for weeks, but preliminary research using geolocation data suggests these events had no impact on the virus’s spread. Instead, public health experts are attributing the surge in new cases to the mask-free masses flocking to reopened restaurants and bars, pool parties and lazy rivers. “They’re conducting themselves like it’s pre-Covid, and that’s not going to work anymore,” Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, told the Washington Post. Younger people, he said, are“not social distancing, not wearing masks or paying attention to hand-washing.” In one stunning case shortly after Memorial Day, a group of 16 friends all tested positive for the virus after visiting a newly reopened bar in Florida. In the months since worldwide lockdowns were adopted, there’s been a recurring theme among coronavirus rebels: They do what they want.In the early weeks of the pandemic, people swarmed beaches around the world, from Florida to Bondi Beach in Australia. “If I get corona, I get corona,” one spring breaker told Reuters. “At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let it stop me from partying.” (He later apologized, calling his comment “insensitive.”) Even after quarantines had been instituted, Washington, DC, Metro officials in March had to practically beg riders not to visit the city’s famous cherry blossoms, which they did anyway, in droves. Brits took to crowded pubs to chant “f*** coronavirus!” And one woman went viral when she tweeted about her defiant trip to a crowded Red Robin restaurant. “It was delicious,” she tweeted, “and I took my sweet time eating my meal. Because this is America. And I’ll do what I want.” Even officials are taking smug positions on the public health warnings. “I don’t need his advice anymore,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said of Fauci on Fox News in late June. Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images Visitors walk around the Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin on March 21 to see the cherry blossoms, despite social distance warnings and city efforts to dissuade visitors. The poor reaction of a growing number of people to social distancing and mask policies — even as the virus resurges — comes as no surprise to psychologists, sociologists, and public health experts. No one alive today has experience with a pandemic of this severity, catching even the most experienced researchers off-guard, not to mention the average person sorting through their Facebook feed. Conflicting government messaging and reopenings of restaurants, bars, hair salons, and gyms in many states have only exacerbated the wildly divergent individual responses, and reliance on personal responsibility in public health matters. It’s created fertile ground for the public to practice the long-held wisdom that we must “carry on” in a crisis: For at least a century, citizens have believed that in the midst of a disaster, their job is to go on with their daily lives as best they can — as if it were a safeguard against an unseen enemy. “We feel like we have to do something,” said Robert Wuthnow, a sociologist at Princeton University and author of Be Very Afraid: The Cultural Response to Terror, Pandemics, Environmental Devastation, Nuclear Annihilation, and Other Threats. But without a good frame of reference for the present crisis, we’ve looked to lessons learned from past calamities, including natural disasters, terrorism, war, and economic collapse, to guide us. “We’re a little bit like generals fighting the last war,” he said. But the old rules no longer apply. The pandemic is unprecedented, said Amy Fairchild, a public health ethicist and the dean of Ohio State University’s College of Public Health. “In this moment in time, ‘carry on’ could be a formula for disaster.” When the coronavirus first arrived in the United States, people cast about for comparisons. “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu,” President Trump tweeted on March 9. “It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!” Experts including Fauci debunked the comparison. “The flu has a mortality of 0.1%,” he told Congress on March 11. “This has a mortality rate of 10 times that.” But the analogy — intended to make an extraordinary threat look like ordinary — persists. In reality, the coronavirus has no clear analogue. “The normal mechanisms we’re using to predict things don’t work,” said Tali Sharot, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University College London who studies human motivation. “Actually, nothing else that has happened before in our lifetimes is relevant or helpful here.” Many contemporary disaster mantras emerged in past wars, and they often contained a kernel of a consumerist message. At the outset of World War I, British politicians such as Winston Churchill encouraged “business as usual,” suggesting that both companies and citizens should continue to behave just as they did in peacetime. But the status quo eventually gave way to a coordinated defense effort when the state realized it would need to control manufacturing, trade, and commerce to win the war. Twenty years later, in World War II, the British government coined “Keep Calm and Carry On” to boost morale in anticipation of a Nazi invasion. But it quickly pulped the test posters; other campaigns about courage in a crisis provoked public outcry as many people found the messages tone-deaf. After half a century, however, the phrase was exhumed — in part as a message to those weathering the Great Recession. Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images The Princess of Wales Theater in Toronto bears the famous British wartime poster reading “Keep Calm and Carry On” on March 17. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images An electronic ad from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a Washington, DC, subway station on March 14. The “Keep Calm” message, discarded during WWII, became newly popular in the Great Recession. In times of crisis, Americans have borrowed English idioms, and coined a few of their own homespun mottos for personal and economic perseverance. During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made an enemy of an emotion, telling the public, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Bush gave this famed aphorism a consumerist spin when he told airline employees, “When [the terrorists] struck, they wanted to create an atmosphere of fear. And one of the great goals of this nation’s war is to restore public confidence in the airline industry. It’s to tell the traveling public: Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America’s great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida.” “Get down to Disney World” was probably never meant to apply to the people who actually traveled to the Magic Kingdom in Marchamid public health warnings to avoid crowds. (Disney eventually closed its theme parks to visitors, though some reopenings are imminent.)But that didn’tstop some politicians from applying this logic to the coronavirus. In a White House press briefing, President Trump said, “America will again and be soon open for business,” and later suggested relaxing guidelines by Easter. That jingoistic outlook quickly dissipated as the virus seemed to metastasize, killing more than 120,000 Americans and requiring social distancing to continue for months. And Americans haven’t been the best socially distant citizens: Memorial Day weekend festivities served as a new catalyst for the spread of the virus, and many officials are desperate to reinstate or expand social distancing policies before the Fourth of July. At the Lake of the Ozarks, for example, a raucous pool party was later linked to multiple coronavirus infections. Alabama students reportedly threw parties attended by infected students that one local lawmaker has alleged were “Covid parties,” aimed at intentionally getting others sick. “It’s almost like we don’t want the virus to win, so we’re going to go out drinking, go to parties, go out to the beach,” Wuthnow said. But these are risky responses when the enemy is not a person or a bad year for the stock market, but a virus — one that can be transmitted asymptomatically. “It’s almost like we don’t want the virus to win, so we’re going to go out drinking, go to parties, go out to the beach” Humans are generally terrible at assessing risk. But it’s proven especially true in the case of the coronavirus. “It’s about our risk to others, and that might make it a little more difficult to understand,” said Cynthia Rohrbeck, an associate professor in clinical and community psychology at George Washington University. People are used to talking with their doctors about their personal health, but taking responsibility for the health of others comes up only infrequently, often in public discourse around smoking, drinking and driving, and getting vaccinated. Our judgment could be clouded by optimism bias, the tendency to believe you are less likely than others to experience something negative. In late February, researchers polled 4,348 people in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland and found half of them believed they were less likely to get the coronavirus than others, sans real evidence. Another poll, conducted in mid-March on more than 800 people from the US, the United Kingdom, and Germany, suggested this optimism was bolstered by people’s belief that they had fewer human interactions than their peers, making their risk of contracting the virus inherently lower. When countries finally began to roll out isolation measures, they encountered additional obstacles. “One of the most important things for people is to have a sense that they are in control of their own life, that they have agency,” Sharot said. In a paper in The Lancet, researchers reviewed 24 past publications on the psychological effects of quarantine and found it can cause post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. But the desire for agency can have an ideological component, too. In China, the authoritarian government has wide latitude to control the behavior of its citizens. But in the United States, few Americans have experienced government-imposed restrictions on when they can go out and whom they can see. Many politicians criticized the rules as an infringement on people’s freedom, not to mention a disaster for the economy. In March, Arizona state Rep. Anthony Kern (R) and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) both tweeted (and deleted) defiant photos from crowded restaurants. “We can’t all just shut ourselves and stay home,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The economy has to move forward.”And even the president has refused to be photographed wearing a mask, underscoring the way protective face coverings have become a partisan lightning rod. Now, as states are seeing terrifying spikes in their coronavirus cases, some are reinstating the social distancing strategies they just rolled back. “Me, personally, I just refuse to live my life in fear,” Katie Williams, the 30-year-old Las Vegas resident who went viral for her Red Robin tweet, told Vox in March. “As Americans, we typically do what we want. It’s kind of that attitude we’ve always had,” she added. “I think if we’re going to start pressuring people that they have to stay home, or publicly shaming them like pariahs, I think we’re just starting to lose a little bit of our sense of country and our sense of rights.” I just went to a crowded Red Robin and I'm 30.It was delicious, and I took my sweet time eating my meal. Because this is America. And I'll do what I want.— Katie Williams (@realkatiejow) March 14, 2020 Fairchild, the public health ethicist, said she understands these concerns. But there are other rights to consider. “As an individual, I have a right not to be infected by somebody who is not paying attention,” she said. Jenny Evans/Getty Images Frolicking crowds at Australia’s Bondi Beach on March 20 amid coronavirus concerns garnered international news coverage, and led the government to close it and similar beaches. People may bristle at being told what to do — especially whenAmerican coronavirus quarantine strategies look superficially similar to those used by authoritarian nations such as China or Singapore. But Susan Michie, a health psychologist and the director of the Center for Behavior Change at the University College London, saw it another way: “We elect people to [make] decisions at a national level to look after ourselves. That’s not authoritarianism; that’s democracy.” And officials are largely dependent on the public’s compliance in a crisis. “This is not something we are doing because we are the fun police,” an Australian official said in a press conference as he implored people to stay home in March. “This is about saving lives.” To convince people to cooperate, Michie said, politicians need to continue tocommunicate a clear sense of urgency, while providing support for everyone who is forced indoors. “We’re interconnected,” she said, and the coronavirus proves it. Eleanor Cummins reports on the intersection of science and popular culture. She’s a former assistant editor at Popular Science and writes a newsletter about death. She previously wrote about the “death-positive generation” for The Highlight. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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Breonna Taylor was killed by police in March. The officers involved have not been arrested.
Breonna Taylor in an undated family photo. She was fatally shot in her apartment by Louisville police on March 13. | Justice for Breonna Demands for justice are widespread and only continue to grow. It has been more than 100 days since Breonna Taylor was killed by police in her own homeinLouisville, Kentucky. Thousands of protesters have chanted her name across the country, demanding justice for the EMT, who would have turned 27 on June 5. As the country is reckoning with its history of racist police violence, many advocates want to know why charges still haven’t been filed against the officers who shot her dead. Meanwhile, those who want to abolish the carceral state are rethinking what justice in the Taylor case should actually look like. Most advocates agree that another Black woman is dead because of a lack of police accountability — and something needs to change. On March 13, three officers with a no-knock warrant entered Taylor’s apartment looking for two people suspected of selling drugs, neither of whom was Taylor. The officers fired more than 20 rounds into the apartment, hitting Taylor at least eight times. After months of investigation, the Louisville Police Department (LMPD) fired officer Brett Hankison on June 23; the other two officers remain on administrative assignment. A special Kentucky prosecutor is leading an investigation into both the shooting and the department’s handling of the shooting to determine whether to charge the three officers who fired their weapons; the FBI is leading its own investigation. On June 29, the Louisville Metro Council also announced a resolution to investigate the actions of Mayor Greg Fischer and his administration surrounding Taylor’s death. The council hopes to create greater transparency around who made what decisions in the Taylor case, according to a news release. Taylor’s deathtook place amid a slate of high-profile killings of unarmed Black people — it was just three weeks after Ahmaud Arbery was killed by white vigilantes while jogging and about 10 weeks before the fatal arrest of George Floyd. The suspects involved in Arbery’s case were arrested and charged two weeks after video of the incident went viral. The four officers involved in the killing of George Floyd were fired four days after Floyd’s death, with the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck charged with murder. By contrast, not much has happened in Taylor’s case. In the meantime, Taylor’s family, alleging excessive force and gross negligence in her death, filed a lawsuit on April 27 against the officers involved in the shooting. “I want justice for her,” Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, told the 19th in May. “I want them to say her name. There’s no reason Breonna should be dead at all.” Police came looking for a drug suspect. Breonna Taylor ended up dead instead. On the night of March 13, Louisville police had a warrant to enter Taylor’s apartment because they believed that a suspect in a narcotics investigation was storing drugs or money or receiving packages at her home, according to USA Today. However, according to the suit filed by Taylor’s family, the man police were searching for, Jamarcus Glover, did not live in her apartment complex and had already been detained by the time officers showed up. Taylor had dated Glover two years ago, according to a family attorney, and did not maintain an active friendship with him. Police said that the three officers knocked on the door to announce themselves. But multiple neighbors say the officers neither knocked nor identified themselves, according to the family’s lawsuit. It was later uncovered that the police had been granted a no-knock warrant by a judge, which allowed them to enter Taylor’s apartment without announcing themselves. They also weren’t wearing body cams. When police arrived, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, says he woke up and believed someone was trying to break into the apartment. He fired one shot, hitting an officer in the leg. Police then fired more than 20 rounds into the apartment. Taylor died at the scene. Walker was arrested and charged with attempted murder of a police officer and aggravated assault. Police found no drugs in the apartment, and both Taylor and Walker have no criminal history. On May 22, Kentucky prosecutors announced that they had dismissed all charges against Walker, who said he fired a shot in self-defense when he believed he and Taylor were under attack. On June 11, police released an incident report for the night Taylor was killed, but it was largely blank. Though Taylor was fatally shot, the four-page report listed her injuries as “none.” The report also stated there was no forced entry, though witnesses say the police used a battering ram to enter the apartment, according to CBS News. Meanwhile, it came to light that the officer who shot her, Hankison, had a history of misconduct allegations. He was already facing an ongoing federal lawsuit at the time of Taylor’s death in which Kendrick Wilson accused Hankison of “harassing suspects with unnecessary arrests and planting drugs on them,” according to USA Today. Wilson alleges that Hankison targeted him and arrested him three times in a two-year period. After Taylor’s death, claims of sexual assault surfaced, too, with at least two women coming forward in early June to allege that Hankison assaulted them. In both allegations, which are similar to one another, Hankison offered the women rides home after they had been drinking at local bars. In one case, Hankison allegedly followed the woman into her home and assaulted her while she was unconscious. In the other case, Hankison reportedly made sexual advances toward the woman while she sat in his unmarked car, including rubbing her thighs and kissing her face. On June 23, he was fired. LMPD posted Hankison’s termination letter on Twitter, which stated Hankison “displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life when you wantonly and blindly fired ten (10) rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor…” The letter also stated Hankison violated the department’s protocol on use of deadly force when he shot through a patio door and window that was covered. This prevented him from determining whether there was an immediate threat or innocent people present; some of the bullets even traveled to a neighbor’s apartment where three people were endangered, according to the letter. Hankison has appealed his termination. The other two officers who fired rounds that night, John Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, remain on the force and have been placed on administrative reassignment. The case is still under independent investigation with Kentucky’s Attorney General, Daniel Cameron, who has said he will not provide additional details or a timeline for the investigation. Protests are ongoing, and calls for justice in the investigation continue In May, Benjamin Crump, the Taylor family’s attorney, argued that the killings of Black women have tended to receive less media attention than the deaths of Black men. “They’re killing our sisters just like they’re killing our brothers, but for whatever reason, we have not given our sisters the same attention that we have given to Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Stephon Clark, Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald,” he told the 19th. “Breonna’s name should be known by everybody in America who said those other names, because she was in her own home, doing absolutely nothing wrong.” Protests where the crowds chant, “Say her name, Breonna Taylor,” have attempted to reverse the lack of attention.In 2015, activists around the country demonstrated and used the hashtag #SayHerName to draw attention to women who had lost their lives, including Gabriella Nevarez, Michelle Cusseaux, and Alexia Christian, as Jenée Desmond-Harris reported for Vox at the time. The death of Sandra Bland in jail after she was arrested during a traffic stop also drew national attention to the impact of police brutality and racism on Black women’s lives. Around the country, activists organized marches and signed petitions on Taylor’s June 5 birthday, saying she should’ve been alive to see the day. In Louisville, protesters have gathered in Breonna Taylor’s name to protest police brutality in a number of demonstrations since May. After a protest-imposed curfew onMay 31, law enforcement shot and killed David McAtee, 53, a local restaurant owner. Following his death, Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad was fired, though it is still unclear exactly who shot McAtee, Vox’s Anna North reported. While there have been other changes in the police department since Taylor’s death — on June 11 the Louisville Metro Council voted unanimously to ban no-knock warrants — advocates, activists, and celebrities are asking why the three officers involved in Taylor’s killing haven’t been arrested. On June 14, Beyoncé wrote an open letter to Kentucky’s attorney general, demanding that criminal charges be brought against the three officers to “show the value of a Black woman’s life.” She also asked that the office bring greater transparency to the investigation. At a June 18 press conference, Cameron — the first Black attorney general in Kentucky and a former legal counsel for Sen. Mitch McConnell — emphasized that the investigation is ongoing, without giving any specific details. “To all those involved in this case, you have my commitment that our office is undertaking a thorough and fair investigation,” he said. “This is also a commitment that I’m making to the Louisville community, which has suffered tremendously in the days since March 13.” Cameron was also the first Republican attorney general elected in the state, according to the New York Times, on a platform that backed Trump and some of the president’s signature efforts, like building a border wall.He has criticized some of protesters’ demands, including the call to defund the police. “Radical rhetoric and calls to ‘defund the police’ threaten public safety and only serve to divide us further, rather than bringing us together,” he said in a press release on June 24. Wake Forest Law professor Ronald Wright,who specializes in the work of criminal prosecutors,told Vox that Cameron’s comments regarding defunding the police are worth watching because they are relevant to how Cameron handles the case. “If he starts to sound like an advocate for law enforcement, voicing broad support for police officers and defending them in general terms, that would make me wonder if he can evaluate charges fairly in this case,” Wright said. “It is tough to convince the public that you will hold the police accountable for their wrongdoing if you never find anything to criticize in their work.” Why there haven’t been arrests in the case so far Wright told Vox in May that in officer-involved shooting cases like Taylor’s, the length of time the prosecutor takes to bring forth charges should not necessarily be the issue. Rather, people should question and examine what the prosecutor does during their investigation. “I don’t really fault prosecutors for taking their time, gathering the facts, being thorough. The timing doesn’t really bother me as much as the amount of effort. If what you’re doing is you’re not doing anything and you’re stalling, and you don’t really intend to press the case as hard as you would press any shooting in your district, then that’s a problem,” Wright told Vox. Since these cases are especially difficult to win at trial, Wright pointed out, prosecutors must take the time to build a really strong case. “The delay could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on whether they are putting in the effort into building a great case,” he said. In the high-profile Baltimore police custody death of Freddie Gray, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby arrested the three officers involved just days after Gray’s death and charged them with offenses including second-degree “depraved heart” murder and manslaughter. All three officers in the case were acquitted. “It may have been that it would have been better to go a little slower and get more evidence for charges after some delay,” Wright told Vox. Many advocates, however, point to the speed at which arrests came in the Arbery and Floyd cases —and the fact that years-long delays in Eric Garner’s case still didn’t lead to justice.Garner died in July 2014 after NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in a banned chokehold. One day before the five-year anniversary of Garner’s death in July 2019, federal prosecutors announced they would not bring charges against Pantaleo. The NYPD fired Pantaleo in August 2019, more than five years after Garner’s death. And in the three cases above there were videos of the incidents. Wright said that even with footage, cases against police officers are difficult to prosecute. Videos do represent extra proof — a form of evidence Taylor’s case lacks. The influence of police unions, which have come under criticism from activists and protesters during the unrest, may also contribute to delays. As Vox’s Dylan Matthews reported, police unions have become engrossed in preventing the discipline of officers who kill unarmed Black people: In local cases, this attitude has translated to a defense of officers who kill or wound innocent civilians. The Louisville Metro Police Department [had first] been limited to just announcing its “intention” to fire Brett Hankison, a detective who shot his gun 10 times during the raid that killed Breonna Taylor, rather than actually firing him outright. This limitation is largely because of the city’s contract with the police union, which gives Hankison multiple opportunities to appeal. He is first allowed a “pretermination hearing” with counsel, and then, once terminated, an appeal to the police merit board, of which Hankison himself is a member. In May, the Louisville police union also demanded an apology from Louisville council member Jessica Green, who called Taylor’s boyfriend a hero after he was charged with shooting Mattingly the night Taylor was killed. “Calling someone that shot an on-duty police officer, in the performance of official duties, a hero is a slap in the face,” said Ryan Nichols, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614. Green said she would not apologize. But Wright said that Hankison’s firing does offer a clue to how a criminal case could swing. That the LMPD found that he showed “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 rounds into the apartment means there’s a chance for a conviction if a jury were to find the same conclusion. “If a jury in a criminal trial were to reach the same conclusions after hearing the facts, they could properly convict him of a lesser version of homicide,” Wright told Vox. At the recent press conference,Cameron refused to discuss any potential roadblocks, stating that “an investigation of this magnitude, when done correctly, requires time and patience.” He added, “To those across the country we have heard from with cards, emails, and letters, and calls, who are asking us to complete the investigation as soon as possible — we hear you and we are working around the clock to follow the law to the truth.” Defunding the Louisville police and its ties to justice for Taylor Amid a growing call to “defund” or “abolish the police,” there are others advocating for justice who view the calls to arrest officers as taking away from the larger goal of dismantling the system. According to anti-criminalization organizer Mariame Kaba, director of the anti youth incarceration grassroots organization Project NIA, celebrating charges for officers signals our dependence on a criminal justice system that was created to uphold white supremacy. “To transform a death-making system, our expectations have to be much higher,” she wrote last month in the New York Times. “Celebrating charges is like celebrating bread crumbs. ... I understand why people do it, but I think according great significance to charges misses the point and it also freezes people in place. It has the effect of demobilizing collective action.” Kaba explained that justice is not just closing down police departments but making them obsolete. “The surest way of reducing police violence is to reduce the power of the police, by cutting budgets and the number of officers,” she wrote. But on June 25, the Louisville Metro Council approved a budget that wouldn’t even begin to defund LMPD. The new spending plan will merely “require police to put the money toward recruiting a more diverse force, additional training and exploring co-responder models that could send behavioral health professionals on calls with officers,” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Funding will also be directed to a civilian review board that will oversee LMPD, following the 24-1 vote. Black Lives Matter demanded that more money be shifted to community services. Today Metro Council votes on the 20-21 Budget. 49% is allocated to @lmpd and corrections. Demand better for our communities! When we say #defundpolice there is a clear vision of what is possible. give money directly to community #DefendBlackLife— BLM Louisville (@BLMLouisville) June 25, 2020 On the same day the budget was approved, a crowd of more than 500 demonstrators, including activists, community members, and celebrities, gathered on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Louisville for a #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor rally, according to the Louisville Courier-Post. Activist Tamika Mallory emphasized the need to keep calling for justice and accountability in Taylor’s case. “I’m sure we all understand that Breonna Taylor is everywhere,” she said. “The issue of Black women being killed and our voices being too low is a problem.” Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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