Protecting Breonna Taylor’s Legacy

Anvi Fenn

In late December 2020, news broke of the Breonna Taylor memorial statue in Oakland, California getting vandalized and partially destroyed. The statue was a very inspiring and beautiful piece of artwork made to commemorate Taylor’s life and all that she meant to the country. Without talking to the person who destroyed it, there is no definitive answer as to why the crime was committed. One thing, however, is clear: this was no accident, and there should be serious consequences for whoever is to blame. This was a brutal attack against the justice sought for Breonna Taylor. 

After months of racial tensions being at an all-time high, there is no doubt that the vandalism to the memorial was a hate crime. Breonna Taylor was at the center of the Black Lives Matter movement that was set aflame by her and George Floyd’s murders during the spring of 2020. Her death was one of the most impactful cases that helped gain traction for global BLM protests. At the height of the movement’s popularity, inserting Taylor and Floyd’s names into social media posts and major news stories became more of a trend used to demonstrate completion of a social obligation instead of a way to actually memorialize their deaths. While their names did bring more awareness to the movement, they were often villainized and associated with BLM’s controversy by right-wing conservatives, making the vandalism of Taylor’s memorial a rather unsurprising example of violence by extremists. “This proves that this was not a one-off event, a drunk racist, but a coordinated effort to undermine the Black Lives Matter movement,” Leo Carson, sculptor and creator of the memorial, stated, “We are not going away.”

Some news sources, such as NBC News, have compared this extreme act to the frequent vandalism of confederate statues that have taken place in recent years. Personally, I think that there is no similarity between these acts. One is a way to symbolize the problems associated with our country creating (and keeping) statues of racist government leaders and slave owners up in public places, writing them into history as heroes and good men. Another is an act of violence towards a woman who was killed by police officers unjustly in her own home. They are not the same, and they should never be treated as such. 

Breonna Taylor was a good person. She was unjustly murdered by the people who are put into duty in order to protect her and the rest of the American public. We cannot stop protecting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) people just because the BLM movement is no longer “trending.” The country still has an immeasurable amount of work to do. The recent incident involving this statue is just one more piece of evidence supporting this. Even after their murders, African Americans still face violence from the rest of the United States. This disturbing act completely disrespected and diminished Breonna’s memory and what she represents. We as a country need to keep moving forward and stop tolerating these inhumane acts of hatred.

Amir Aziz via Twitter