John Legend: We Need to #SayHerName: Happy Birthday, Breonna Taylor (Op‑Ed)



When I look at what led to the murder of Breonna, I see intersecting issues that need to be addressed as we continue our ongoing work to transform our criminal justice system and make our country more safe for Black people.

In the last week, police unions across the country have been talking about the protests as a "war" in their cities. But there has been a war on black communities for a long time now. This "war" turns police departments into small armies who patrol what they believe to be "battlegrounds'' rather than neighborhoods, populated by "combatants" rather than hard-working people with families and dreams, like Kenneth and Breonna.

When the Louisville police were issued an unconstitutional no-knock warrant by a judge, they continued this war. Now the country seems to be on fire, and everyone is asking why. What we need to move forward is accountability. After Breonna's murder, the police department and the prosecutor closed ranks to protect their misconduct. Although District Attorney Thomas B. Wine ultimately dropped charges against Walker, he has not brought charges against the LMPD officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove, who took Breonna's life.

I began Free America because I wanted to support the important long-standing work of organizers committed to transforming our justice system. I quickly learned that true transformation is impossible without focusing on district attorneys who hold too much power to deny Black people justice again and again. Now for the first time, Color of Change has created a directory to help us start this work. I hope you will join our movement to take up this fight locally and elect prosecutors who will hold the murderers of Black people accountable. We've also joined the call to end the police's war on Black communities by asking that local governments redirect significant portions from police budgets to other services that will make communities healthier and safer.

As we continue to work towards systemic change, I join Breonna's community in the immediate demand for justice: Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer should finally arrest the three officers who killed Breonna and charge them with second-degree murder. Until elected officials create consequences for egregious and fatal police misconduct, they will continue to kill us with impunity.

To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:

  • Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
  • Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.

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  • Hear John Legend's new song 'Bigger Love'

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