Breonna Taylor decision: Chicago protests draw hundreds across city, Illinois National Guard on standby as 1 officer indicted

Breonna Taylor Chicago: Protests held around city after no officers charged for her death

Thursday, September 24, 2020
Breonna Taylor Decision: Chicago protests, reaction
Breonna Taylor Decision: Chicago protests, reactionChicagoans took to the streets to protest the Breonna Taylor decision during several peaceful demonstrations across the city. Jessica? {REM}

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago protests over the decision to not charge any officers for the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville drew hundreds across the city Wednesday night.

The Illinois National Guard was put on standby for the reaction to the charging decision, but all protests remained peaceful.

Kentucky officials announced Wednesday afternoon that Louisville Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid on the night of March 13. None of the charges are for Taylor's death.

One protest and march was held near Chicago police headquarters in Bronzeville.

"As much as we're out here every day, the struggle is continuous," said Anna Acosta, teacher and protester, through tears. "It hurts me that she didn't get the justice that she deserved."

They're protesting and marching again, but they don't want to be.

"They want to be home with their families, live in a world where Breonna Taylor is here, safe at home with her family, not worried about being shot by the people who have taken an oath to protect her," said Tanya Watkins, South Sider and protester.

As the officers who shot and killed Taylor walked free, unindicted, their freedom became a rally cry, a round of fresh demands for racial justice.

"People keep saying that no one should be shocked," Watkins said. "The moment when we such inhumanity justified by our legislators, our system... I think we always have to be shocked and outraged."

TANYA WATKINS: "I think people keep fighting because they have hope"

"I think things can change, absolutely. I think people keep fighting because they have hope."

"We are all human beings. We all want the same thing. We all want to be treated the same way. In this country, that hasn't been the case for so many situations," Acosta said.

In Auburn Gresham, Father Michal Pfleger organized a protest and march starting outside St. Sabina Church. The crowd chanted a now-familiar refrain: Say her name.

"Unfortunately, the grand jury today couldn't even say her name," Fr. Pfleger said.

"When you take someone's life, it shouldn't matter who it is or who you are. You should be held accountable for it, right?" said protester Teyonna Lofton.

The protest and march kicked off at St. Sabina church and was organized by Father Michael Pfleger.

The St. Sabina church bells tolled for a life lost too soon after a citywide moment of silence.

"Black lives matter. Black woman lives matter. And we're out here demanding that everyone act like it," Lofton said.

"Yesterday we saw a man riding a horse on the Dan Ryan about kids being killed arrested. Today, three policemen that killed a woman walked away," Pfleger said. "That's the kind of country we live in, and that's why nobody believes anymore in the system. The system is broken, and the system needs to be dismantled to change."

Hundreds also came out to Palmer Square Park in Logan Square, marching and chanting around the Northwest Side neighborhood demanding justice. And another protest that started in Millennium Park then traveled to Federal Plaza. Both protesters and police had dispersed as of 10 p.m.

While the city and state have put the National Guard on standby, Governor JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said they expect protests to remain peaceful. Lightfoot said the city is prepared if that should change, and that if bridges had to be raised or a curfew had to be put into effect, they would give residents at least one hour notice.

Gov. Pritzker, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Mayor Lightfoot, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, CPD Supt. David Brown, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and My Block My Hood My City founder Jamal Cole held a press conference to decry the charging decision Wednesday afternoon.

"The grand jury's lesser charge of a single officer does not address the loss of her life, not nearly. This is, simply put, a gross miscarriage of justice," Pritzker said.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker addresses Chicgao after a Kentucky grand jury declines to indict any officers for the polie shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

Lightfoot spoke about the city's commitment to racial justice and racial equality in the wake of the decision.

"We will and we must continue to say her name. We will and we must continue to demand justice," she said. "Today's ruling will not distract us from continuing to pursue justice and righteous change."

Chicago Mayor Lori LIghtfoot speaks after a Kentucky grand jury declined to charge any officers for the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

She also called on Chicago residents to observe a moment of silence at 7 p.m. Wednesday night, be it in their homes or outside.

"Afterward, I encourage you to say her name," Lightfoot said. "And if you're so moved, share your expression on social media with the hashtag #SayHerName."

Preckwinkle also invoked the power of peaceful protest in the wake of the charging announcement.

"I ask everyone to stay focused. Protest, if you feel moved to do so. Peaceful protest is powerful," Preckwinkle said. "However, we cannot meet violence from the police with violence of our own. It gives ammunition to those who do not share our concern for racial justice. Your voice, your words, your vote matter."

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle speaks after the decision not to charge any officers for the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville.

Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton spoke passionately about Taylor's death, about having a daughter the same age as her, and about living as a Black woman in America.

"The decision to only charge one officer with wanton endangerment is unacceptable," Stratton said. "It is hurtful, it is confusing, and it further illustrates how Black people are often dehumanized and disenfranchised by the criminal justice system. Today's decision is one more reason why Black women often do not feel protected."

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Julianna Stratton speaks about the decision not to charge officers for the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

"We will tell them that Breonna Taylor is all of us and any one of us," the lieutenant governor added. "She is me. We will continue to say her name.

My Block My Hood My City founder Jahmal Cole also announced a rally for Breonna Taylor and racial justice on Saturday as he spoke of the injustice in the charging decision.

My Block, My Hood, My City founder Jahmal Cole speaks after Kentucky grand jury declines to charge officers for police shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

"I got two black daughters, and I want them to be all they can be, right?" Cole said. "That shouldn't just be my aspiration; that should be reality."

Chicago police squad cars and even garbage trucks could be seen Wednesday in the city's downtown. The Illinois Restaurant Association also warned businesses to stay alert in case of protests or possible looting in response to the Taylor decision.

WATCH: CPD Supt. David Brown speaks on Breonna Taylor charging decision

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown speaks after the decision to to charge Louisville police officers for the death of Breonna Taylor.

Chicago experienced vandalism, looting and civil unrest twice this year, once after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and then again after Chicago police shot a man in Englewood.

RELATED: Chicago George Floyd protests: Businesses board up after day of rallies turns violent; at least 6 shot, 1 killed

In the city's South Loop, wooden boards covered up broken shards of glass outside Burnham Mart.

Pritzker's office released a statement Tuesday night, saying, "The Governor and Mayor Lightfoot met this morning and are in regular communication and the Governor has spoken with leaders across the state. As the Governor has always said, all of the state's resources are available to municipalities if needed; this includes additional Illinois State Police troopers and the National Guard. The Governor is putting the Guard in a state of readiness to ensure they are available if municipalities request their assistance."

RELATED: Louisville police declare state of emergency ahead of Breonna Taylor decision

Louisville's mayor declared a state of emergency due to potential civil unrest expected in the wake of the announcement, hours after police there said they would restrict access in the city's downtown area. The mayor and police said they were trying to plan ahead of time to protect both demonstrators and the people who live and work there.

Taylor, a Black emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times March 13 by officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. The warrant used was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside. The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned by Louisville's Metro Council.

RELATED: Chicago looting devastates Michigan Avenue, Loop, Gold Coast; More than 100 arrested, police say

Videos show large crowds breaking windows and entering stores along the Magnificent Mile, in Gold Coast, in the Loop and in some other Chicago neighborhoods.

ABC News obtained an email Wednesday from one of the officers involved in Taylor's shooting death, sent to his colleagues. It said, in part, "I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night. It's sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized."

Large protests over Taylor's death that at times became violent erupted in late May in the city but most demonstrations since then have been peaceful. Celebrities, athletes, activists and Taylor's family have for months pushed Cameron to criminally charge the officers involved in the raid.

Her name was a prominent part of protests in Chicago after her death and the death of George Floyd in the spring.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.