A ‘fight for freedom:’ Carbondale community marches in honor of Breonna Taylor
September 26, 2020
Around 70 people marched from the Carbondale Police Department to East Main Street to protest the indictment of one out of three officers that fatally shot Breonna Taylor.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot in her apartment in Louisville, Ky., by officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove on March 13, 2020.
On Sept. 23, Hankison was indicted on three accounts of first-degree wanton endangerment. Mattingly and Cosgrove have been placed on administrative reassignment.
Chastity Mays, 44, of Carbondale, said she attended the protest because of the verdict for Taylor and to stand up against racial injustice in America.
“They actually just convicted the cop of shooting into her neighbor’s wall, and that’s just sad and disheartening,” Mays said. “I really want to stand up for what’s right.”
Mays said she was impacted most because she feels her and her daughters lives are not valued in America as Black women, she said.
Maleah Mays, Chastity Mays’s 18-year-old daughter, said what impacted her most was that the date Taylor’s verdict was released was the same date Emmett Till’s murderers were found not guilty.
Emmett Till was a 14-year-old Black male who was murdered on Aug. 28, 1955, after being accused of offending Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. In September 1955, Roy Bryant, her husband, and J.W. Milam, her husband’s half-brother, were found not guilty but later admitted to the crime.
“Breonna’s life mattered and so did Emmett Till’s. Two lives were taken by the system that’s designed to kill,” Maleah Mays said. “How much longer will they ignore our cries? Breonna’s never coming back.”
Chastity Mays said Carbondale needs local change in order to create national change.
“We are getting a new police chief and we need to do a national search to get diverse police officers,” she said. “Right now I’m standing up for the school resource officer in Carbondale Community High School to be removed.”
Chastity Mays said the Carbondale community needs to come together and vote in diverse officials to bring social change.
Joe Cervantez, a district attorney candidate for Jackson County, said change can be made in America and worldwide by voting.
Cervantez said as a prosecutor and defense attorney he has seen economic injustice, social injustice, and racial injustice firsthand.
“I’ve done this protest only instead of signs, instead of bullhorns, I’ve had a briefcase,” he said. “The reason why I ended up in law school is because without it no one listened to me, but now I have the platform and I have the bullhorn.”
Cervantez said the common denominator behind each warrant case is a state’s attorney and that is the office that needs to change.
“If we have someone in office that doesn’t recognize unfairness, inequality, and racial division then what do we expect of our officers?” he said.
Elise Pawlak, of Carbondale, said unlearning racism means being committed to sit with discomfort and people who experience racism should not be held responsible for others unlearning racism.
“That will occur when confronted with the knowledge that something you are invested in has roots in racism,” she said. “It is okay to not fully understand but it is never okay to stop listening to learn.”
White allies must remember that even though their intentions may be good it could potentially have negative biases, Pawlak said.
“This country was built on the back of racism and if we are to destroy racism then it is dependent on dismantling the structures that were built to protect white supremacy,” she said.
Nancy Maxwell, of Marion, said she feels as if Black individuals walk with a target on their backs.
“When an officer kills somebody under circumstances of a wrongful death they should be charged immediately and sent to prison,” she said. “Maybe some of the officers will stop shooting Black people like it’s Black people season.”
Maxwell said people need to rebuild and plant seeds of diversity to grow change.
“We will be marching. Not for a few weeks, not for a few months, we will be marching and rebuilding the garden until justice is served,” she said.
Truth Marsh, a 16 year old Carbondale high school student, said she feels attached to lost Black lives.
“Are our voices not loud enough?” she said. “Every time I hear another name of a Black person killed by police brutality it’s almost like a piece of me goes with them, not because I knew them, knew of them or even heard their voice. That’s the beauty of Black magic, we feel so much for each other.”
Emerald Avril, a Carbondale resident, said Carbondale and Jackson County have a rich history in racism and community members need to stand against injustice.
“It is our duty to fight for freedom,” Avril said. “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Staff reporter Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @jamilahlewis.
Staff reporter Keaton Yates can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @keatsians.
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