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Organizers in Breonna Taylor's hometown say they plan to continue protests

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio

People protested in Grand Rapids Friday, two days after Kentucky officials announced no murder charges for police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor.

Taylor grew up in Grand Rapids. She was killed in March by Louisville police during a raid. A Grand Jury declined to prosecute the two officers who shot her, saying they reacted appropriately when Taylor’s boyfriend fired at them. One officer was charged for “wanton endangerment” for firing shots into a neighboring apartment.

Protestors gathered in Grand Rapids on Wednesday evening following the announcement that officers wouldn’t be charged for the shots that killed Taylor. Hundreds stood outside Grand Rapids Police Department headquarters. At one point GRPD chief Eric Payne came outside, kneeled with them for a moment of silence, and hugged Taylor’s family members.

Friday, people gathered again to protest.

“We do want to be out here continuously to continue to apply that pressure and hopefully build numbers and have more people coming with us,”  said Aly Bates, president of the local group Justice for Black Lives.

After a night of destructive protests in downtown on May 30, GRPD announced a series of reform efforts. The department has also issued a new strategic plan.

But Bates says it hasn’t been enough.

“What I want to see is more action instead of talking about it,” she said Friday. “Because they keep talking, they keep coming out and kneeling with us, but I don’t see anything actually being done.”

Bates says Justice for Black Lives plans to continue to protest in the city each week.

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Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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