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Justice for Breonna Taylor: Understanding #SayHerName and Black Women’s Invisibility in Police Brutality

by Nadia Gapur

Much of the civil uprising across the country under the Black Lives Matter movement is due in part to the callous murder of George Floyd by four police officers in Minneapolis, MN on May 25. However, far too few are as familiar with the killing of Breonna Taylor.

Back on March 13, 2020, the 26-year-old EMT was fatally shot in her home in Louisville, KY by Louisville Metro Police Department officers. As the New York Times reported, the LMPD was investigating two suspected drug dealers. A judge ordered a “no-knock” warrant which allowed the officers to enter the home without identifying themselves as officers or heed a warning. Upon hearing what he believed was intruders, Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, a licensed gun owner, grabbed his gun. According to the LMPD, once in the home, they returned fire in retaliation from a shot from Walker, firing 20 shots, in which at least eight struck and killed Taylor. (One police officer was shot in the leg and is expected to make a full recovery.)

As of now, the three officers have been placed on administrative reassignment and have yet to be charged. The FBI is currently investigating this case.

However, Walker was subsequently charged with attempted murder of a police officer. Those charges were only just dropped on May 26, 2020.

The suspected drug dealers were already in custody by the time the police raided Taylor’s home.

It needs to be recognized that Black women and girls are also dying at an alarming rate from police brutality. Their stories deserve to be heard and justice to be served. As a response, on December 2014, Kimberlé Crenshaw of The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) and Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS) started the #SayHerName campaign. Its purpose was to raise awareness, name and tell the stories of the victims, and provide support to their families.

Many are mostly familiar with the names, faces, stories, and even last moments of the men slain by police brutality, like Sean Bell, Eric Garner, and most recently, George Floyd. However, far too few are familiar with any of the Black women or girls killed from police brutality, other than Sandra Bland. Using the hashtag #SayHisName or #SayTheirName hijacks the already disproportionate visibility of Black women, girls, and femmes murdered by police brutality in mainstream media. It derails focus from Black women’s suffering and changes the narrative that only Black men are being killed.

This list of Black women, girls, and femmes killed by police brutality was compiled by the AAPF. Know their names. Know their stories. Know their faces.

Here are nine more women and girls that have died under police brutality and blatant racism towards the Black community. These are their stories.


Atatiana Jefferson e81d8Atatiana Jefferson Image via 11Alive on YouTube 

Atatiana Jefferson – Killed by police October 12, 2019
The 28-year-old Black woman was shot and killed in her home by a police officer in Fort Worth, Texas. She was babysitting her nephew at the time.


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Pamela Turner Image via KPRC Houston on YouTube 

Pamela Turner – Killed by police May 13, 2019
A 44-year-old Black woman living with paranoid schizophrenia shot and killed in Baytown, TX.


Korryn G fdf74Korryn Gaines Image via WJZ on YouTube

Korryn Gaines – Killed by police August 1, 2016
The shooting of the 23-year-old Black woman and her 5-year-old son, who survived. According to the Baltimore County Police Department, officers sought to serve Gaines a warrant in relation to an earlier traffic violation.


sandrabland 3d242Sandra Bland Image via ABC NEWS

Sandra Bland – Died in police custody on July 13, 2015
Sandra Bland was a 28-year-old activist who was later found hanged in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, on July 13, 2015. Her death was ruled as suicide. Soon protests against her arrest, disputing the cause of death, and alleging racial violence against her followed suit.


Mya Hall 09d52Mya Hall Image via Hari P. Close 

Mya Hall – Killed by police on March 30, 2015
She was a 27-year-old Black trans woman from Baltimore, who had been on the streets since 2009. She was killed when officers opened fire because she and her friend allegedly crashed into a guard post at the National Security Agency, 28 miles away.


Natasha 26f94Natasha McKenna Image via The Washington Post

Natasha McKenna – Died of police-induced trauma on February 8, 2015
She was a 37-year-old Black woman who died while in police custody. The event was notable because it was captured on video, one of many incidents. While there were no charges against the deputies who tasered McKenna, the case is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.  

Tanisha Anderson 7431bTanisha Anderson Image via WKYC Channel 3 on YouTube 

Tanisha Anderson – Killed by police on November 13, 2014
The 37-year-old woman died during an encounter with Cleveland police. Her family had called 911 seeking help and watched her die from their home. Alongside the 23 women killed by police earlier in 2014, her story has been ‘erased’ from the spotlight.


Michelle Cusseaux 2de1bMichelle Cusseaux Image via ABC15 Arizona on YouTube 

Michelle Cusseaux – Killed by police on August 13, 2014
The 50-year-old Black woman, was shot while police were trying to serve a mental-health pickup. Her mother called authorities to get her daughter some much-needed help, not to have her shot and killed.


rekia boyd 0c4b2Rekia Boyd Image via Democracy Now! on YouTube

Rekia Boyd – Killed by police on March 21, 2012
The 22-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot on March 21, 2012, in Chicago, Illinois, by Dante Servin, an off-duty Chicago police detective. In November 2013, Servin was charged with involuntary manslaughter, but was cleared of all charges on April 20, 2015, by Judge Dennis J. Porter in a rare directed verdict.


Aiyana Jones 57cc3Aiyana Stanley-Jones Image via Click On Detroit | Local 4 | WDIV on YouTube

Aiyana Stanley-Jones – Killed by police on May 16, 2010
She was a seven-year-old Black girl from Detroit’s East Side who was shot in the head while asleep and killed by Officer Joseph Weekley during a raid conducted by the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team.


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Eleanor Bumpurs – Killed by police on October 29, 1984 
One of the earliest cases recorded. Bumpurs, 66, was a disabled Black woman living in a public housing apartment in the Bronx where one officer fatally shot her twice with a 12-gauge shotgun during an eviction.


We want to pay our respects and honor the countless Black women and girls who have lost their lives.  

Charleena Chavon Lyles (June 18, 2017)
Alexia Christian (April 30, 2015)
Meagan Hockaday (March 28, 2015) 
Janisha Fonville (February 18, 2015) 
Aura Rosser (November 9, 2014)
Sheneque Proctor (November 1, 2014)
Pearlie Golden (May 7, 2014)
Gabriella Nevarez (March 2, 2014)
Yvette Smith (February 16, 2014)
Miriam Carey (October 3, 2013)
Kyam Livingston (July 24, 2013)
Kayla Moore (February 12, 2013)
Shelly Frey (December 6, 2012)
Malissa Williams (November 29, 2012)
Alesia Thomas (July 22, 2012)
Shantel Davis (June 14, 2012),
Sharmel Edwards (April 21, 2012)
Shereese Francis (March 15, 2012)
Tarika Wilson (January 4, 2008)
Kathryn Johnston (November 21, 2006)
Alberta Spruill (May 16, 2003)
Kendra James (May 5, 2003)
LaTanya Haggerty (June 4, 1999)
Margaret LaVerne Mitchell (May 21, 1999)
Tyisha Miller (December 28, 1998)
Danette Daniels (June 8, 1997)
Frankie Ann Perkins (March 22, 1997)
Sonji Taylor (December 16, 1993)

Please do not let these Black women, girls, and femmes die without justice. You know his name, now #SayHerName.

Donate to Breonna Taylor’s family here and check out the official site for the #SayHerName campaign for further information as to how you can help others too. 

Header image by Maddy Brookes


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