March 11, 2022

Remembering Breonna Taylor as Work Continues for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation

Russ Feingold President

Russ Feingold
ACS President Russ Feingold

Two years ago Sunday, Breonna Taylor was tragically killed by police who were executing a no-knock warrant. Breonna should be alive today. No-knock warrants should be banned. These are simple truths. As Christopher Wright Durocher, ACS Vice President for Policy and Program, writes in ACS’s Expert Forum:

The most effective way at preventing more tragic killings at the hands of police executing no-knock or quick warrants is to ban them, completely. Four states—Florida, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia—currently have such bans in place. More states need to follow. Comprehensive reform also needs to include greater restrictions on knock and announce warrants. In the absence of meaningful reform, meaning bans that are not undermined by loopholes, people will continue to lose their lives as a result of quick and no-knock warrants, and it is almost a guarantee that the victims will be disproportionately people of color.

I am also reminded that part of the effort to transform our laws and legal systems to end police violence is reckoning with the history of the harm inflicted at the hands of law enforcement, which dates back to slave patrols and the creation of modern day law enforcement. This is part of truth, racial healing, and transformation. This work is ongoing and its urgency is reinforced with every tragic death at the hands of police.

This week, the Senate unanimously passed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, and President Biden has promised to sign it. This legislation, which makes lynching a federal hate crime, is long overdue. It harkens back to some of the ugliest chapters in our country’s history and simultaneously shines a light on the continued violence perpetrated against people of color to this day. At a time when bipartisanship is a scarce commodity, it was encouraging to see this legislation pass the Senate unanimously.

As Russia’s unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine continues, I want to encourage everyone to listen to this week’s Broken Law podcast episode and watch the video of this week’s program (if you were unable to watch the event live), both of which do an excellent job of detailing the many laws and legal systems at issue with Russia’s unprovoked and unjust invasion. On Broken Law, Debra Perlin speaks with Steve Vladeck about everything from the UN Charter and NATO Treaty, to whether President Biden actually has the authority to order offensive operations against Russia without explicit congressional approval, if it ever came to that. Thursday’s program went into detail on the litany of sanctions designed to cripple Russia’s economy and the growing allegations that Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine. If you haven’t caught both of these, they are very much worth your time.

Friends, I also want to encourage you to take time for yourself. It can feel like the world is upside down at times, and we all need a chance to disconnect from social media, TV, and our computers. Even as Covid-19 restrictions are eased in many places, the pandemic is not over and we are still being confronted with harrowing news and developments nearly every day, whether it’s the Ukraine crisis or the truly abhorrent laws being enacted in several states to marginalize LGBTQ+ youth. I know that taking time for ourselves is easier said than done. Hopefully spring will bring nicer weather and entice us to enjoy the outdoors – away from screens for even a little bit.