‘Wanton Endangerment’: No Justice for Breonna
This week on democracy-ish, our hosts are confused, angry and hurt –– but not shocked –– by the deeply unsatisfying indictment of one of the three cops responsible for Breonna Taylor’s murder.
Although the Louisville medical examiner ruled Breonna’s death a homicide, a grand jury indicted just one officer, who was charged with wanton endangerment. WTF is that? And who’s to blame?
Trump has basically already told us he’s stealing the election. Can the Democratic party grow a spine and stand up to his lawless death cult?
Are we leading up to a new civil war?
Although the medical examiner ruled Breonna’s death a homicide, a grand jury recommended Officer Brett Hankison be charged with the crime of wanton endangerment.
“For shooting wildly into her apartment, not for murdering her, which of course happened because he shot wildly into her apartment,” Toure says.
Like everybody else who’s not a lawyer, Danielle had to look that one up.
“What the fuck does that mean?” she asks. “Because it doesn't sound like homicide. It doesn't even sound like manslaughter. And the good Google told me: In Kentucky, it’s a Class D felony.”
Other Class D felonies include unauthorized use of a credit card, possession of a controlled substance, and stalking in the first degree. The maximum prison sentence for these crimes? Five years.
And the indictment stipulated that this wanton act endangered the neighbors in the adjacent apartment, not Breonna or her boyfriend.
As the saying goes, a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich. So why didn’t the citizens of Louisville indict these murderers?
That’s just one of the topics to unpack this week.
Episode Highlights –– We’re Fucked!
Endangerment –– ‘for everyone but Breonna’
Let’s review: In a botched “drug raid,” three plainclothes police officers used a battering ram to force their way into Breonna Taylor's home while she and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, slept.
Thinking someone was breaking in, Kenneth fired his (licensed) gun once in self-defense, hitting Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly in the thigh as they broke down the door.
Chaos ensued. The other two cops, Detectives Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison, fired multiple rounds into the apartment. One of them shot Breonna six times while she still laid in bed. Kenneth says she struggled to breathe for at least five minutes before she died.
Forensic analysis shows that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot. But he wasn’t charged.
Hankison, who fired into windows covered with blinds (a violation of a departmental “line of sight” policy) was charged. He’s now out on $15,000 bail and awaiting trial.
"Wanton endangerment was for everyone but Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend,” says Danielle. “This is a particular case in which Black lives really do not fucking matter.”
Toure wonders: “What if he had killed a white person?”
“We wouldn't be having this conversation,” Danielle replies.
‘Property before personhood’
Det. Hankison was fired, while the other cops were reassigned. The Louisville Police Department settled with the Taylor family for $12 million.
“But no person is responsible for the ending of Breonna’s life,” says Toure. “It's hurtful. It's tragic.”
And as the judge read the charges against the three officers, he “didn't even say her fucking name,” Danielle notes.
That’s one of the reasons why it’s unsurprising that the jury “didn't even see fit to say these three fucking murderers endangered her life –– took her life,” she adds.
But Toure and Danielle both think the Attorney General of Kentucky, Daniel Cameron, did not want those cops to be charged with killing Breonna. If he did, it “would be very easy to do at the grand jury level,” Toure says. “Once again, the system is protecting the police, not citizens.”
Danielle sees Cameron, a Black Republican who spoke at his party’s national convention, as a “wolf in sheep's clothing.”
He has decried the calls for justice by activists from out-of-state, saying that they don't know Kentucky and just want to rile up its citizens.
But arguing “outside agitators” are the problem –– not the lack of justice for Black people –– places “property before personhood,” says Danielle.
Waiting for justice, praying for peace
In the wake of this news, Black citizens and their allies are traumatized, says Toure.
“I think about all the time I –– and millions of others –– spent chanting her name. But we feel like not much has actually changed. Because after all this time, a Black woman was killed while she was sleeping, and no one is really responsible.”
One thing is clear: Breonna and her family will never get justice.
“We'll never get justice,” Toure adds.
“This country continues to break our hearts over and over again,” Danielle says. “On days like today, as a Black woman, as a Black queer person in America, I've had it waiting around for justice.”
A contested election is brewing
As we approach the election with fewer than 40 days to go, our president is already threatening to appeal the results.
“He's saying it's rigged, it's cheating and it's wrong before it's even happened,” Toure says. “I'm not sure on what grounds, before the game has even begun. But it does create a deep sense of fear: where's this going? Will this be decided at the ballot box? Or will something strange happen? I don't know.”
Danielle feels more certain about what we’re up against: “This election is going to be the most contested we've ever seen.”
Our older listeners might have flashbacks to Florida’s hanging chads in 2000.
“For folks too young to remember,” she explains, “Bush v. Gore was decided by the Supreme Court, wrongly. I often wonder what would have happened if Gore became president.”
Nonetheless, we’re now faced with a “sociopathic dictator” who’s using the bully pulpit to tell the country, and the world, that the election is rigged that democracy itself is bogus.
Voter suppression is real, but voter fraud isn’t, Danielle argues.
“Donald Trump is a hammer looking for a nail. His own FBI said this week that it ain't a fucking thing. Now, national security is on alert. This motherfucker may not leave.”
Putin’s plan: make democracy illegitimate
Toure points out that Trump “has already told 40% of the country that the election is illegitimate.”
So if Trump loses, his supporters will think Biden won through nefarious means. And if Trump cheats and wins…
“Either way, a significant portion of the country will say the election –– ergo, democracy, is illegitimate,” Toure says.
And this is what Vladimir Putin wants, he argues.
“Putin has been helping Trump, not because he specifically cares about him, but because he wants to destabilize America and ruin our faith in basic institutions.”
The overarching goal is for Russia to be the lone superpower on the global stage, and Trump is “aiding and abetting the destruction of America,” says Toure.
Now, the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg puts the Supreme Court at the forefront of the 2020 race. More than ever, we need a Democratic party that will “stand up and be as ruthless, and as rugged, as possible,” he adds.
That might mean adding more Supreme Court justices and doing the kinds of things “that can truly change America, to reclaim some of the power the GOP has wrongfully snatched.”
White militias preparing for battle
We can only do that if we win the Senate, says Danielle.
“Of course. But adding new states, doing things that truly change America to reclaim some of the power the GOP is wrongfully snatching ... If we don't have a Democratic party that’s strong and tough and willing to stand up, what is the point?”
If Biden and Harris succeed –– if they “pole-vault over all of the obstacles in their way and make it through the jungle of lawlessness the Republican party put together,” Trump won’t accept it.
“We're gonna have a revolution,” Danielle argues. “It's also what Trump, Bill Barr and all of them have wanted … what they have been champing at the bit for. But this is not ending civilly.”
She points to skyrocketing guns and ammunition sales, purchased by an ever-growing “white militia” and inspired by a president who is “egging them on.”
“I am telling you: These people want war,” she says.
Trumpism won’t end when he’s out of office
Toure is nervous, too, about how Trump will try to up-end this election. But he holds out hope that Biden will crush it on Election Night. If Biden were to flip a red state, like Georgia or Texas –– which is “always a Democratic dream, but not out of the question this time” –– Trump’s claims of fraud will fall flat.
But it’s important to remember that “Trumpism doesn't end with the defeat of Donald Trump,” he says. “It will endanger our lives for years to come.”
It’s one thing to have a difference of opinion –– about the way money should be apportioned, for instance. But Toure thinks the modern GOP doesn’t “believe in reality.”
That’s evidenced by “that dumb Barbie bitch with her binder, who when asked about the latest Coronavirus numbers by a reporter, responded with: We don't use those numbers,” Danielle says. “What fucking numbers are you using then?”
Has the GOP officially lost its way?
This week on Woke AF, Danielle talked to a former Republican who argues that the GOP has become “the party of death,” she says. “Nothing that they stand for is about life. Denying climate change. Denying the fact that 200,000 Americans have died from COVID.”
“The GOP has gone off the ideological deep end … and there's a whole ecosystem of what voters believe, which comes from the insanity of right-wing media, which is fed to the elected officials. And they sort of keep rolling down the hill, fueling each other in conspiracy theories and lies and bubble-think. I'm not even sure what they're really about.”
They don’t seem to have a vision of what can make the country better, he adds.
“They don't want to provide anything,” says Danielle. “All they want to do is take away. What they want is domination. Just power for power's sake.”
Democratic power: activate!
“I'm running out of patience. I'm running out of spirit,” says Toure. “I'm wondering, are there people in Washington on our side who are willing to bring the fight? Who are willing to rise to the occasion and say: now is the time for innovative changes in America. Not power grabs, but changes meant to save us from the modern monster that is the GOP.”
He wants to see the Democrats manifest real power.
“I want to see some court-packing. I want to see some new states,” he says.
“Ain't nobody got time for middle-of-the-roading, sitting on the fence, referring to the gentlewoman across the aisle,” Danielle adds. “We need to start treating Republicans like the lawless fucking cult that they are, and activate accordingly.”
“I don't even want to say if there's still a country because, in some ways, I'm like, ugh,” says Toure.
“We brought this on ourselves by starting that saying a year ago,” Danielle replies. “And now we're like, fuck.”
Though America is unraveling right before our eyes, we'll be back next week.
“Pray about it deeply,” says Danielle.
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Toure as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle — together!