Massive protests around the country demanding justice after the police killing of George Floyd are also bringing new attention to other incidents of black people dying at the hands of law enforcement officials charged with protecting them.
The killing of Breonna Taylor is among the cases now gaining new attention on the national stage. Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was killed by police who conducted a no-knock raid at her home in Lexington, Kentucky in the middle of the night. Her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, a licensed gun owner, fired upon police, who he believed to be intruders, according to reports. Officers opened fire, striking Taylor at least eight times.
"Police officers broke and entered into her home, without announcing themselves, shot her, killed her, and chalked it up to a clerical error," Loralei HoJay, a law student, told Cheddar. "I don't think that any officer anywhere in this country should be able to take a human life and then call it a mistake. A mother lost her daughter, a family lost their child, and they are never going to see her again. And I don't think that we should be taking that lightly."
Following Taylor's death, HoJay started a petition on Change.org calling for Kentucky officials to charge all officers involved in the shooting, pass legislative changes, and approve payments to her family. So far, that petition has garnered nearly 2.5 million signatures. But like many black Americans, HoJay feels her efforts to affect change are falling on deaf ears.
"The government and attorney general of Kentucky haven't responded yet, so I figured we need to get their attention in a bigger way," she said. HoJay also stated that she isn't giving up and is taking her call for justice to the next step with a virtual protest scheduled for this week.
"Our power as citizens is definitely in numbers. I think that a lot of the times our representatives forget that they do work for the American people and that the only voice that they are supposed to be listening to is the American public," she says of her plans to organize a massive tweetstorm to Kentucky's Governor Andy Beshear and Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
As many Americans find the urge to help, it is not always clear how they can get involved. HoJay suggested reading books or even watching informative documentaries to get more educated. Signing petitions and protesting are also ways to enact change, according to the activist, because when "people get together in large numbers and show that they are all together in support of one cause, [officials] have no choice but to listen."
Black Americans' fight for equality and respect has spanned centuries, and allies can help yield positive change by having open minds, hearts, and more importantly open ears, said HoJay.
"I think that just talking and listening to actual voices of color and what they've been through and the systemic issues they face is a way for all of us to better educate ourselves on what it is to be black in this country."