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A year later, southern IL remembers Breonna Taylor

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An afternoon vehicle caravan snaked through the city, led by shouts of "Justice for Breonna Taylor", a popular rallying cry during last summer's protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

A child holds a sign that says "BREEWAYY" at Jefferson Square Park on Saturday.

Taylor was a 26-year-old Black woman shot and killed in her home by Louisville police officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove on March 13, 2020.

Kenneth Walker, Taylor's boyfriend, thanked the crowd Saturday for their support over the past year. Some organizers gave away food during the speeches. She said as the anniversary of Taylor's death approached, she felt compelled to do something to honor her life and continue to celebrate the efforts of the local Black community.

During Saturday's rally in Louisville, speakers called for justice for Ms Taylor and reforms to the criminal justice system.

"As we continue to mourn her, we must press ahead to pass meaningful police reform in Congress. I remain committed to signing a landmark reform bill into law", he wrote.

Taylor, whose name has become a rallying cry in the movement for racial justice, was killed in a narcotics raid on March 13 of a year ago when Louisville Metro Police Department officers forced their way into her home. Walker, believing it was a break-in, fired his gun.

"It's sobering that we have to mark the death of Breonna Taylor when there's still been no real justice", said Bruce Johnson, 65, of Arlington.

Taylor's death initially flew under the media radar, as the COVID-19 crisis shut down society, but George Floyd's death in Minnesota and the release of a chilling 911 call from Walker in late May sparked interest in the case. Walker was charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer after he shot an officer in the leg during the raid, but a Kentucky judge earlier this week dropped the charges for good.

West Coast cities clashed with police as they rioted on the anniversary of the death of Breonna Taylor. No drugs were found in Taylor's apartment.

"I gotta say that's a nice start, but that's not where we finish", Walker said. "We have to keep going and we can not rest". And demonstrations held Saturday continued to seek justice for Taylor.

"As we've seen, there's not been any justice for Breonna Taylor, and a lot of the other brutal killings of Black Americans, so holding onto hope has been the most important thing", Alexander said.

Taylor's family and friends are now looking to the results of a federal probe, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation saying Saturday its work was moving forward.

Tamika Palmer and Bianca Austin, Taylor's mother and aunt, were also present at the rally.

Gov. Andy Beshear also marked the date by issuing a statement to remember Taylor's "tragic and unnecessary loss" and to highlight the "immense work we have ahead of us".

Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative.

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