Crofton native Adia Snorton Johnson said she felt a wave of emotions Thursday standing among the crowd of hundreds that gathered at the Kentucky State Capitol to demand justice for Breonna Taylor.
Johnson, 40, had made the three-hour drive from Hopkinsville to Frankfort with her 24-year-old daughter and activist Demetria Snorton and her 15-year-old niece Lorationa Knight.
“We had to get there because either one of us could have been Breonna,” Johnson said. “This was my first (rally), but it was the most dope experience. I felt like I wanted to cry, I wanted to chant her name. So many emotions went through me. It was surreal ... I was standing there like ‘Are we actually fighting for justice for a woman who was sleeping in her bed? Is this the world we live in?’ ”
Breonna Taylor, 26, was killed by Louisville police officers who used a no-knock warrant to try to enter her apartment March 13. Officers reported that they returned gunfire after Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired one warning shot toward what he said he thought was intruders trying to enter.
Taylor, who was black, was shot eight times, and only one officer has been fired. Louisville Metro Council has since banned no-knock warrants, naming it Breonna’s Law. However, no criminal charges have been announced from the state.
The rally — organized by social justice group Until Freedom — called on Attorney General Daniel Cameron to charge the officers who shot inside Taylor’s apartment with murder. The rally also demanded a statewide ban on no-knock search warrants.
Snorton, a beauty pageant winner who has protested all across the country, and Lorationa, who experienced a rally for the first time, said it was necessary to be at Thursday’s rally.
“It could have easily been me,” Lorationa said. “I feel like America doesn’t care about black women, and I think it’s important that we get the whole world to acknowledge that black women are important.”
Headlines and activism around the death of George Floyd — who was killed May 25 by an officer who kneeled on his neck until he died during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota — have largely been the focus of protests across the nation.
Although protests have continued in Louisville, Taylor’s death only recently came to the forefront of the national conversation. Black celebrities Common, MC Light and Jada Pinkett Smith attended Thursday’s rally in Frankfort, and Alicia Keys posted videos urging people to contact Kentucky legislators to demand the statewide ban of no-knock warrants.
Snorton said, “In terms of all the recent injustice, Kentucky has been the most stagnant in responding — not one cop got charged.
“The whole world is watching,” she continued. This is not just a moment, this is not just rallies. It has been 100 plus days (since Taylor was killed), and the state needs to wake up.”
The Kentucky attorney general, who is black, has asked for patience as his office determines whether or not to charge the officers involved. He also hasn’t given a timeline on when his investigation will be complete.
At the rally Thursday, Muhammad Ali’s nephew, Sean Ali Waddell, shouted in the mic to Cameron, “Don’t you be on the wrong side of history.”
Johnson said coming back to Hopkinsville, she hopes the fire stays lit on the inside of her to push for change.
“When you come back to Hopkinsville, there aren’t many movers and shakers,” she said. “There aren’t many who truly want to fight the fight. The energy could get sucked out of you if you don’t continue to go outside of Hopkinsville to get that energy to fight the fight.”
Snorton said she hopes the local community can see that speaking up against injustice is important and needed.
“I hope people can see that there are young people who are hungry and active,” she said. “I think there is a misconception that you’re not cool if you’re woke, but it doesn’t matter. I want to see us go toward a common goal to see what we can do to be the change.
“We can be angry, yes, but we also gotta be proactive,” Snorton continued. “We have to get in the streets, we have to go to the polls. Even in Hopkinsville, we have to be the change.”
Lorationa said, like her grandmother, she has grown up seeing black people be killed unjustly — Lorationa was just 8 years old when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, at the age of 17 by a man who thought he looked suspicious.
Seeing that it’s still happening, Lorationa said, is sad but also empowering.
“I felt what my great-great-grandmother felt when she marched across the Selma bridge,” the teen said of experiencing the rally. “My grandmother only died in 2017, but this is still happening. It’s like their great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren are fighting these fights, and it’s going to be our great-great grandchildren fighting if nothing is changed.
“It’s not going to change unless we as the black community stick together,” she continued. “In Hopkinsville, we need to unify as the black community. To know that we are hurting each other — I loss my cousin to gun violence. Why are hurting each other? We can’t fight this fight unless we come together as one. We need to realize we’re all one and fighting the same fight.”
Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.