Kern County reacts to Breonna Taylor decision

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Officials in Louisville, Kentucky braced for mass riots before announcing that there will be no criminal charges filed for the death of Breonna Taylor. She was an EMT who was killed in March during a police raid. Her death sparked demonstrations around the nation over police violence against African-Americans. Police forced entry into the home and met Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who fired a weapon at officers and wounded one. The ensuing gunfire left Taylor dead, former Officer Myles Cosgrove fired the fatal shot. Cameron states her shooting could not be not classified a homicide under Kentucky law.

“I didn’t have any emotion because I really wasn’t surprised at all. This was another situation of ‘just us.’ Not ‘justice’– ‘just us,'” said Nick Hill, President of the Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce.

“Was hopeful that our country, that  our system would make a change. But I expect for them to act in the way of the way that they typically act– which is not typically bringing charges towards officers that are in the wrong,” said Patrick Jackson, the President of Bakersfield’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Color People (NAACP).

Many leaders note the disparity between races in regards to police violence. A 2019 study by the Harvard School of Public Health states that black Americans are three times more likely to be killed by the police than their white counterparts. In addition, a 2019 study released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences noted that one out of every 1,000 African-American men can expect to be killed by police.

“Our country really doesn’t care about black people,” said Patrick Jackson. We can cry together and kumbaya and have meetings. But if you’re ready to come to the table and change policy, your words mean absolutely nothing until action is taken.

The current climate also takes a toll on police officers. Joel Swanson, the Public Information Officer for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, says he sees many deputies who feel unsafe. This comes after a violent September in which two deputies were attacked.

“It’s a different world right now. It’s something we have to live with and something we have come to accept that we understand that things are probably never gonna be the same as they used to be,” said Swanson.

Nick Hill and Patrick Johnson noted that the issue of police brutality is as old as the American police force itself. Eastern Kentucky University Professor Victor E. Kappeler Ph.D. notes that American police were descended from “slave patrols and night watches.” Nick Hill feels as though those roots are all too visible in the nation’s policing after the decision not to press criminal charges for the death of Breonna Taylor.

“Just historic. That’s the only thing I can say,” he said. “It’s not anything new. It’s just something that– it’s a practice that’s been going on for years and years and years and will probably go on for years to come.”

Two Louisville police officers were shot Wednesday in protests following the decision.

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