At least 200 people dressed in black gathered at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus Friday night to celebrate the life of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was killed by police officers in her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, in March.
Kiara Yakita, Columbus artist and organizer of the protest, told The Lantern she wanted the vigil to serve not only as a way to acknowledge Taylor’s life, but to come together.
“I really want us to hold onto that sense of community that we’ve developed here,” Yakita said.
The vigil was 7:30 to 10 p.m. and came after a grand jury decided Thursday to not indict the officers involved in Taylor’s killing with charges related to her death. A former detective was charged with “wanton endangerment” of Taylor’s neighbors for firing his gun into their apartment.
“Why is it such a crime to be Black? Why is it such a crime to be in this skin?” Maria Holland said during Breonna Taylor’s vigil. “Living in this skin makes me feel like it’s a crime to be anything but dead.”
Taylor was shot at least five times in her apartment when police returned fire after Taylor’s boyfriend shot at police. Her boyfriend said he mistook the police officers as intruders.
Those who gathered for her vigil laid flowers next to a painting of Taylor and held signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” “Black Women Matter” and “Say Her Name.”
“When you speak something, you speak it into existence,” Yakita said. “So, with Breonna Taylor, we are saying her name, we are acknowledging her life, we are acknowledging her legacy, we are acknowledging what she went through and we are fighting for her to get justice.”
“Do you hear the power of your voices when we say her name collectively?” Columbus musician Dairdre Scriven asked the crowd.
“We can never go back to normal….Normal was when we were all asleep. Normal was when all you wonderful white allies out here didn’t realize that your Black friends were hurting.” pic.twitter.com/ehvxoXqJCC
— The Lantern (@TheLantern) September 26, 2020
There were also calls for the community to come together for Black resilience, excellence, creativity, education and success. Not just coming together for Black pain.
Other speakers encouraged the crowd to not only come together to protest, but to come together to vote in November.
“We need to have compassion for each other, and we need to take that compassion to the polls,” Yakita said.
Asia Atuah, Owen Milnes, Maeve Walsh, Sarah Szilagy and Jack Long contributed reporting.