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Yesterday it was announced that no one is being directly charged for the death of 26 year-old Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police as she slept in her Louisville apartment.
Former officer Brett Hankison has been charged, not with Taylor's death, but with "wanton endangerment" for firing into a neighbour's apartment in Louisville.
This lowest-level felony offence and comes with a five-year sentence for each count. Hankison was charged on three counts. The two other officers who were involved were not charged.
Reactions to the news were furious and fast. At the time of writing, protests are ongoing in Louisville, where two police officers have reportedly been shot.
Others cast their minds back to the massive digital campaign mounted to try and attain justice for Taylor.
Specifically aspects which didn’t sit well with everyone – and ultimately proved futile when it came down to the wire.
Such as the memes.
can’t stop thinking about how breonna taylor was made into a meme, into a punchline, into a joke, into a way for so… https://t.co/ZZHg4ZpsgD — Adria R. Walker (@Adria R. Walker)
Although the call to ‘Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’ started in good faith, its digital repetition soon began to morph and change.
Soon the phrase was being shoehorned into contexts where it felt less like a weighty, sincere statement and more like a punchline.
Slowly, like other memes, Taylor’s name began to be divorced from the circumstances it was first invoked in – her tragic death – and instead began to be a (well intentioned) meme in its own right.
It wasn’t that people were acting maliciously in using Taylor as a meme; like many memes it spread like wildfire which was the intended effect.
But in the process, the weight of Taylor’s death and the fury that spurred calls for justice, was lost.
Who Breonna Taylor really was – a 26 year-old woman with hopes and dreams who wanted to become a nurse and loved to sing – was lost.
Breonna was an old soul (like me); she loved to sing the Blues with her grandma.
Her mom called her the glue of t… https://t.co/3wbOMRCA9F — Elaine Welteroth (@Elaine Welteroth)
All that was left were memes.
And now people are reflecting on that, judging it to be one further injustice done to her.
tw // death , police brutality
yall were making a mockery of Breonna Taylor's death beforehand, in the name of… https://t.co/hvtEZWfOD7 — Moonie quit her job (@Moonie quit her job)
The entire situation is heartbreaking.
Breonna Taylor deserves so much more than what she’s been given. From social media making her death into some shitt… https://t.co/tCFAclbdzq — Jaz (@Jaz)
But in the wake of the failure to find anyone culpable for her death, the focus has returned to what matters: real justice.
There will undoubtedly be protests in the wake of the injustice that continues to disrespect Breonna Taylor's memor… https://t.co/BihO3TL3aq — Talia~°emerging howling and lovely into 2022°~ (@Talia~°emerging howling and lovely into 2022°~)
No more memes.