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Columbus Protesters Upset Over Charges In Breonna Taylor Shooting

Adora Namigadde
Protestors lined High St. outside the Statehouse to protest an indictment related to Breonna Taylor's death.

Protesters gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday evening after a grand jury charged one Louisville Police officer in the botched narcotics raid that led to Breonna Taylor's death.

Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment after shooting into apartments that neighbored Taylor’s. Of the three officers involved in Taylor’s death, Hankison is the only one facing charges. No officers face charges directly related to killing Taylor, who was hit with police gunfire during the raid.

Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, has maintained that police did not announce themselves when they entered the apartment with a no-knock warrant. Walker said he mistook them for intruders and fired a warning shot, which hit one officer in the leg and prompted officers to open fire.

In downtown Columbus, protester Faith Lewis said the indictment upset but didn’t shock her.

“I was disappointed but not surprised," Lewis said. "It is, like I said, an ongoing pattern for our country to ignore justice when it comes to Black people. And I think it just goes to show how much more we value money than justice for Black people.”

Lewis said she planned to stay at the Ohio Statehouse protests for a couple of hours.

“I think her womanhood definitely plays a role in the way her brutalization has been handled. But it has remained the same regardless,” Lewis said. “I see a lot of times that Black Lives Matter or movements around violence against Black and Brown people tend to focus mostly on men. And they forget women of color.”

Protestors lined High Street between Broad and State, first singing and then chanting phrases like, “No Justice! No Peace!” and “Black Lives Matter!” At some points, police used loud speakers to tell protesters to get off the street or stay within certain lanes on the street.

Credit Adora Namigadde
Timela Patterson says she thinks the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of the school year caused a decrease in protestors over time.

Columbus resident Timela Patterson said news of Hankison's indictment brought her pain. But she noted a decrease in protestor turnout Wednesday night in comparison to earlier this summer, when demonstrations took over downtown over the Minneapolis Police killing of George Floyd.

“Because of COVID, the timing, school is back in action for some people. And it’s just like some people are scared,” Patterson said. “There’s like no other way to put it. Some people are scared, have bigger things going on in their life and don’t have time.”

It is not clear who organized Wednesday's protest in Columbus. Many attendees said they heard about the protest through friends or social media channels.

Eljada Wellman has been participating in Black Lives Matter protests since May. She said doesn't find it helpful to differentiate between Taylor’s killing and those of other Black people at the hands of police.

“My cousin introduced me to the ‘oppression Olympics,’ and I think that’s a huge thing in the Black community,” Wellman said. “Who has it worse – Black gays, Black women, Black men? I don’t, I can’t, those issues, we all have our own issues.”


Credit Adora Namigadde
Eljada Wellman has been protesting regularly outside the Ohio Statehouse since May.

Wellman, who attended the protest with friends, recalled her own sour experiences with police growing up. Her mother is Black and her father is white.

“So when we were little, there was one time, there was a fight, I’m not sure what was happening,” Wellman said. "But I do remember vividly that my father cut the back of his neck and called the police and my mother was arrested that night.”

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.