‘Change the laws!’: Celebrities rage over ‘insulting’ charge in Breonna Taylor case
Queen Latifah added her voice on Wednesday to those protesting the decision by a Kentucky grand jury in the Louisville police killing of Breonna Taylor.
The Wednesday decision by a Kentucky grand jury to indict one of the three officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor was met with swift criticism among celebrities and activists.
Louisville, Ky., detective Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into neighboring apartments in connection to the police raid. The grand jury did not proceed with charges against any officers directly involved in Taylor’s death, which occurred on the night of March 13 when officers entered her Louisville home during a narcotics investigation.
But the Wednesday decision was not enough, said Oscar winner Viola Davis. “BLACK LIVES MATTER!!! Cannot be said enough times,” she tweeted.
Other celebrities voiced their dissatisfaction with the grand jury decision during a time of increased racial tension in the U.S. and divisiveness going into November’s presidential election. The general sentiment was that the charge proved that Black lives do not matter, with many Black stars quoting author James Baldwin about being “in a rage almost all the time.”
“Westworld” star Jeffrey Wright called for the state to “change the laws,” and “Saturday Night Live” star Chris Redd expressed disbelief, begging to “make it make sense.”
Yara Shahidi, star of the TV show “grown-ish,” was among the many who were disappointed and infuriated that the charges brought Wednesday had nothing to do with Taylor’s death “but to the POTENTIAL injury of other people in the apartment” complex.
Taylor was shot six times, with the fatal shot being fired by Officer Myles Cosgrove, Kentucky Atty. Gen. Daniel Cameron said Wednesday during a news conference. He added that Cosgrove and Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly were justified in their use of force to protect themselves after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired at them.
Cameron, who delivered the news to Taylor’s family earlier Wednesday, was emotional during the news conference. But the Republican special prosecutor in the case, who is Black, was promptly blasted by #OscarsSoWhite founder April Reign and “Scandal” star Kerry Washington. They noted that Cameron is on President Donald Trump’s short list of replacements for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“They never get it right and that doesn’t make it hurt any less. Breonna Taylor should still be with us and her family deserved justice today. Tired of this s—,” tweeted Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry.
Cameron characterized Taylor’s death as “a tragedy” but criticized celebrities, influencers and activists “who don’t understand” his state or its laws for speaking out about it to influence the case. Some of those celebrities include TV titan Oprah Winfrey, whose namesake magazine bought billboards across Louisville to demand justice for Taylor.
Oscar winner and Kentucky native George Clooney issued a statement to Deadline Wednesday rebutting Cameron’s directive.
“The justice system I was raised to believe in holds people responsible for their actions. Her name was Breonna Taylor and she was shot to death in her bed by three white police officers, who will not be charged with any crime for her death,” Clooney said. “I know the community. I know the commonwealth. And I was taught in the schools and churches of Kentucky what is right and what is wrong. I’m ashamed of this decision.”
Ben Crump, the attorney representing Taylor’s family, called the grand jury’s decision “outrageous and offensive to her memory.” The charges also were denounced by the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Organizers of Black Lives Matter, the group that has mobilized the nation against the killing of Black people, said they were “completely disgusted and outraged by the indescribable decision.”
“Here we are, yet again, a Black life that has been dehumanized at the hands of the police in cold-blooded murder; has no value in a criminal legal system that is supposed to protect it,” said Patrisse Cullors, a BLM founder and executive director.
Louisville was preparing for more protests and possible unrest as the public awaited Wednesday’s decision.
Here’s a look at how others reacted to the news.
From the Oscars to the Emmys.
Get the Envelope newsletter for exclusive awards season coverage, behind-the-scenes stories from the Envelope podcast and columnist Glenn Whipp’s must-read analysis.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.