EQUAL PROTECTION 4 BREONNA TAYLOR
May 25, 2021
Malcolm X once said that Black women are the most disrespected and unprotected...
On March 13, 2020 Louisville, Kentucky police officers entered the home of Breonna Taylor and gunned her down. Her death provided a glimpse into the whirlwind of corruption that is America's criminal justice system. The attorney general, Daniel Cameron failed charge the officers responsible for Breonna's murder. Instead, one officer was charged with the endangerment of the neighboring property. Black people were not surprised as many have become numb to the disrespect of the Black woman and the dehumanization of Black people.
Policing as we know it began with slave patrols that were instituted for the recapture of enslaved. Africans who had run away and to keep other in their so-called "place." The purpose of policing is and always will be containment and control, which makes Black people easy as "shooting fish in a barrel." Effectively circumscribed, Blacks were at the mercy of the arbitrary searches of their residences and their bodies. The due process violation that is Illegal search and seizure has been one of the most effective tools of white supremacy, with seizure being the first form of aggression imposed upon a colonized people. Africans were seized and enslaved, the enslaved were seized and sold, the free were seized and enslaved, and all were susceptible to being illegally seized and lynched.
Much of the focus on Breonna Taylor's case was shifted to the warning shot fired by her boyfriend. Shifting blame is an effective strategy but those of us who know are able to discern bullshit. The issue is. it whether a cop was shot by Ms. Taylor's boyfriend, no, the central issue is that the police had no right to invade Ms. Taylor's home.
The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution provides:
"the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no warrants shall issues, but upon probable cause; supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The 4th Amendment was born out of trauma. The colonists had fled Europe because of the arbitrary acts of the British government who used its power to seize property and person. Laws such as the Quartering Act of 1765, forced colonists to house British soldiers and writs of assistance gave the government power to seize control of anyone's property.
Through the Declaration of Independence America's founding fathers charged the kings and parliament with depriving them of natural and unalienable rights.
"1. The rights of the people are based on natural law, that is a higher law than laws made by men. Its existence is self-evident. It is given by God and unalienable." -The Declaration of Independence
The British government made the founding fathers distrustful of monarchy, a strong central government and executive power. As a result they made sure to event provisions to guard the right against illegal searches. On June 11, 1787 George Mason made this clear, "Amendments therefore will be necessary, and it will be better to provide for them, in an easy, regular and constitutional way than to trust to chance and violence."
After centuries under the thumb of systemic racism Black people fought for equality and from those efforts the 14th Amendment was born:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction therefore, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprived any person of life, liberty, or property without die process of the law; nor deny any person EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS."
The warrant that the police had was for the seizure of Breonna's ex-boyfriend, not Ms. Taylor herself. In addition, the ex-boyfriend was already in police custody when the police broke into Ms. Taylor's home. Referring to police actions as "breaking into" Breonna's home is not hyperbole, it is accuracy. With the ex-boyfriend in custody, the warrant is null and void. Think of it his way, the warrant is a coupon for the police to seize one free donut from Dunkin' Donuts. Once the coupon is used, it is used, they cannot then go to a different donut shop because the coupon is void. Therefore, the instant the police breached Breonna Taylor's front door, they committed a felony —Burglary.
BURGLARY: the act of breaking and entering an inhabited structure (as a house) esp. at night with intent to commit a felony (as murder or larceny)...The crime of burglary was originally defined under the common law to protect people, since there were other laws (as those defining larceny and trespass) that protected property...Err are degrees of burglary, and some of the usual aggravating factors are the presence of people and use of a deadly weapon. [Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law]
There is exception in the Constitution that allows for the infringement on Breonna's right to be secure in her home. The police have used power that they do not have and have done so under the guise of "suspecting" crime. This creates precarious conditions form those who have been criminalized for having Black skin, for being female, or femme. The criminalization of people leads to the militarization of police which leads to things such as no-knock warrants. As author Nick Estes would say, "Our History is the Future."
If we were in the days of old, the police would have been wrong but justified because America. History didn't pretend to afford Blacks any level of humanity. This is not then.
The issue is not whether the police were defending themselves and therefore justified in killing Breonna Taylor. To allow such a narrative is the proverbial moving of the goalpost. Again, the issue is whether the police presence was justified. The answer? No. Once probable cause is gone, it is gone. The police illegally broke into Breonna's home. Their crime is murder.
FELONY MURDER: a murder that occurs in the commission of a serious felony (as burglary or sexual battery)...Felony murder does not require specific intent to kill, and an accessory to the felony may also be charged with the murder. [Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law]
Felony murder occurs when a person or persons commit murder in the commission of a felony, such as the burglary we have established. Those who wish to defend the actions of the police will claim that the police had a right to be there. This argument fails due to the doctrine embedded in the 4th Amendment—the fruit of a poisonous tree doctrine.
The fruit of a poisonous tree doctrine indicates that if it is found that police conduct a search without probable cause all the evidence, or "fruits" thereof are to be excluded. In brief, search without cause is illegal and any evidence found or action taken, following a search without cause is barred from presenting in court.
What does that mean? Justifiable murder cannot be a defense because it is the fruit of a poisonous tree. There is no way that any of the officers could be justified because they were, in fact, acting illegally when they entered Breonna Taylor's home.
Justice is balance, therefore it is imperative that the law not only equally protect Black women but it must also be equally applied to the police.
#Protect Our Queens