It’s where hundreds of supporters gathered with the family of Breonna Taylor for what should have been her 27th birthday and where they showed the world their heartbreak when no one was charged with her death.
It was home to a new vegetable garden during the heat of June, dozens of pumpkins in October and an iced-over memorial encircled by silk flowers in February.
For nearly a year, Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville, often called Injustice Square, Breeway or simply “the square,” has been the beating heart of the Breonna Taylor protest movement — a site so central that those in power cannot turn a blind eye.
“They chose that park because, guess what, it’s right in the middle of everything,” Taylor’s aunt Bianca Austin recently said. “… Injustice square is a statement for Breonna.
“That statement is that the injustice that y’all done to this woman, here it is, every day when you come to work, you need to be reminded of Breonna.”
Surrounded by symbols of government might — Metro Corrections, the courthouse, City Hall, Metro Hall and nearby, the police department — the square had been more notable for its proximity to power than its acre of green space, too small, a 2018 report said, “for large public events.”
But that was before 2020 — the year that turned Louisville upside down.
It was before police shot and killed Taylor, an unarmed Black woman, a year ago, before Louisville was an epicenter of the racial justice movement and before protests and nightly marches spilled from the square and into the streets for 180 straight days.
Now, it is a place that has brimmed with both anguish and exhortations, energized day after day by protesters shouting, “Say her name.”
It is the fertile soil for a racial justice movement whose seeds were planted in the hours and days after Taylor’s March 13, 2020, death and whose roots have grown deeper through the events of the past year — through demonstrations and armed conflict and heated confrontations with authorities and armed groups.
For Kenneth Walker, who was Taylor’s boyfriend and was with her when she was killed, the square is “a safe haven. A place of hope.”
“That’s what it meant to me over the summertime,” he said in late February, standing feet from the circular memorial to Taylor at the park’s center.
“I’d come here, I was very thankful and also surprised at the same time to see the love and support that she had.”
The stories of the square and the movement are really one and the same, their moments interwoven into a narrative that protesters say is still being written.
But here’s how it began.
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SOURCE: Tessa Duvall and Hayes Gardner, Louisville Courier Journal