In Breonna Taylor's neighbourhood, wounds of racism are raw

In Breonna Taylor's neighbourhood, wounds of racism are raw

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Businesses are boarded up in anticipation of protests in Louisville
FILE PHOTO: A woman visits the memorial for Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., September 11, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo

LOUISVILLE: In Breonna Taylor's neighbourhood in Louisville, there was bitterness but little surprise at the news that no one would face charges over the young black woman's killing by police.

"They can kill us and get away with a spank on the wrist," 52-year-old Marcus Reede summed it up.

An African American who owns a BBQ eatery, Reede grew up in this residential Kentucky neighbourhood. He slammed the leniency granted to the officers who shot and killed Taylor, a fellow resident of South Louisville.

He recalled having been roughed up by police himself when he was young.

"There was about five or six of them kicking and jumping on me," he said as he roasted a rack of ribs.

"But you know, they didn't have video cameras, phones or something to record it then," he said.

And that has been key. Footage of the deaths of black men like George Floyd at the hands of police officers has galvanized protesters in recent months and swelled a movement against police brutality and racism.

READ: More than 120 arrested after Breonna Taylor shooting protests

READ: Two police officers shot in Louisville, one suspect in custody amid Breonna Taylor protests

Taylor, a 26-year-old medical worker, lived in an apartment complex a few blocks from Reede's takeaway.

"Rest in peace beautiful girl. I will not stop fighting until your murderers get what they deserve," said one of the notes left outside her ground-floor apartment, amid flowers and candles.

"I will never stop screaming your name," it said.

In front of her old home, where Taylor lived with her boyfriend and sister, a white door has been fitted to replace the one knocked down by police in the pre-dawn hours of Mar 13.

On the doormat next door, a message reads: "Nothing inside is worth dying for."

FEAR OF DEATH

The death of Taylor, whose name has been chanted at anti-racism protests across the United States all summer, shocked this community of working men and women, a neighbourhood that is "poor but trying to survive the best we can", said local resident Lillie McBride.

READ: Gunfire erupts in protests after Louisville policemen cleared in Breonna Taylor death

READ: Family of US police shooting victim Breonna Taylor settles civil case for US$12 million

For many African Americans, the killing raised fears that they could share the same fate.

"It used to be the black men who were put down" said McBride, a 46-year-old African American. "Now it's also black women."

She slammed the "injustice" she experiences just because of her skin color.

"I always feel threatened," said Taina Thomas, who went to high school with Taylor.

"She's a good spirit, she didn't deserve it," she said of her old schoolmate, whom she described as "a great person" and "a hard worker".

At 28, she is just two years older than Taylor when she was killed by police. She often talks with her friends about the abiding fear the killing has left with her.

"It's crazy how it could be any of us too," she said. "I always feel threatened."

Source: AFP/jt

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