Remembering Breonna Taylor,  Virginia law bans no-knock warrants
A picture of Breonna Taylor at the Say Their Names Memorial at Emancipation Park, Oct. 7, 2020, in Houston. | Aaron M. Sprecher via AP

History was made this week as members of Breonna Taylor’s family joined Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for a ceremonial signing of the state’s new law banning no-knock search warrants.

The bill, called Breonna’s Law, was made in honor of Taylor who was shot and killed by police officers who entered her home during a questionable late-night raid in Louisville, Kentucky earlier this year.

Although Virginia is the third state to enact a ban on no-knock warrants, it is the first to do so since Taylor’s death in March, and with her namesake. The no-knock warrant ban is included in a detailed police reform package that Northam signed into law this month.

At the press conference, the governor noted that “all of the country knows the story of Breonna Taylor. We’re here today because when people saw in March what happened [to Breonna] they said that’s wrong and you need to do something. We are taking action here in Virginia.”

Northam referred to the community in Virginia and across the country who came out and demanded justice and change in the wake of Taylor’s death. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets calling for the arrest of the three officers who raided Taylor’s home and shot her to death.

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician (EMT), worked at two hospitals with plans on becoming a nurse. She was an essential worker in a time when so many working people were risking their health to help others during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

“The pandemic shined a spotlight on long standing inequalities,” Northam stated. “When we act, change laws, and do the work, we honor all of those who lost their lives. Virginia continues to struggle with the burden of a complicated [racial] past,” the governor pointed out when explaining why criminal justice reform in the state is a necessity.

Delegate Lashrecse Aird and Sen. Mamie Locke, who sponsored “Breonna’s Law,” also spoke at the event highlighting the need to address other issues plaguing communities of color. Locke echoed the words of Civil Rights icon Fannie Lou Hammer as she exclaimed she was, “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Locke noted that Taylor’s death could have easily happened in Virginia. “Breonna is me [a Black woman],” the senator explained. “We need to address criminal justice reform comprehensively. We can’t look at it individually. It’s connected to healthcare, Universal Pre-K, affordable housing, and food access.”

Airde stated that no-knock warrants, when issued, disproportionately affect Black communities. Under the new law, search warrants can only be served during daylight hours unless law enforcement can prove good cause against daytime service.

Aird was the first to address the fact that the police who shot and killed Taylor have yet to be arrested for her death. “Since March we have been in pursuit of justice for Breonna Taylor and it is still yet to come.”

Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump championed the bill noting that “far too often Black women don’t get the attention and recognition that others get when they are killed [due to police brutality]. Why should we have to wait until we have a Breonna Taylor in Virginia before we pass responsible legislation?”

Crump took the opportunity to mention Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has recently come under fire for his handling of Taylor’s grand jury case. “Breonna Taylor’s legacy will not be defined by Kentucky A.G. Cameron. Her legacy will be defined by her family. By people who believe in due process of the law. This legacy will be built on a foundation brick by brick, state by state, and policy will be cast vote by vote,” the attorney exclaimed. “Breonna Taylor’s name will be remembered throughout the history of the United States.”

Taylor’s aunts, Bianca Austin and Tahasha Holloway, took to the podium wearing shirts with “#NoMoreNoKnocks” emblazoned on them, to remind the world that they are still demanding justice for their niece. “Justice for Breonna is making sure those officers [who shot her] are fired, arrested, charged, and convicted for their unlawful entry into her home,” Austin stated.

Noting that although Breonna’s law has only been passed in Louisville, Kentucky and not statewide, Austin said, “Hopefully Kentucky can step up to the plate and follow what Virginia is doing. Let’s get on the right side of justice. Make the world a better place to live.”


Chauncey K. Robinson
Chauncey K. Robinson

Chauncey K. Robinson is an award winning journalist and film critic. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, she has a strong love for storytelling and history. She believes narrative greatly influences the way we see the world, which is why she's all about dissecting and analyzing stories and culture to help inform and empower the people.