| The Progress-Index
‘Breonna’s Law’: Virginia gov. signs bill with her family present
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ceremoniously signed legislation banning no-knock search warrants referred to as “Breonna’s Law” with members of Breonna Taylor’s family present.
RICHMOND, Va. – With members of her family there to witness, Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam ceremoniously signed the so-called “Breonna’s Law” bill into Virginia’s books Monday morning.
It was the second time Northam signed the legislation banning no-knock search warrants across Virginia – he originally approved it in late October – but the first time he did so with family members of Breonna Taylor there to see it.
Taylor, an emergency-services technician in Louisville, Kentucky, was killed March 13 when officers used a no-knock warrant to raid her apartment as part of a narcotics investigation. Taylor was shot to death by police after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a gunshot and officers returned fire in the apartment.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed “Breonna’s Law” on Monday, banning no-knock warrants in the commonwealth.
Virginia is only the third state to adopt a law banning no-knock warrants and the first since Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her home by police earlier this year. pic.twitter.com/hU3ffVjlcA
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) December 7, 2020
Bianca Austin, one of Breonna Taylor’s aunts who came from Louisville to Richmond for the ceremony, was effusive in her praise for the bill getting passed, She also used the moment to criticize the decision by a Louisville grand jury to not indict the three officers originally cited for her niece’s killing.
“Let us not forget that Breonna Taylor still needs justice,” Austin said. “Justice for Breonna Taylor is making sure that these police officers are fired, arrested, charged and convicted.”
Taylor’s death was among a number of catalysts for demonstrations against racial injustice across the nation over the summer.
Southern schools’ history textbooks: A long history of deception, and what the future holds
Gov.: Ban makes sure ‘other families don’t suffer the same loss’
Northam, who presided over the ceremony, said the get-together was “not a cause for celebration,” He said he was signing the ban to make sure “other families don’t suffer the same loss as [Taylor’s] family,” And while nothing can be done to bring Taylor or any other victim back, “we honor them when we act.”
Del. Lashrecse D. Aird, D-Petersburg, and Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, carried the ban legislation during last summer’s General Assembly special session on police reform and COVID-19 economic relief.
“Today is a commemoration of the life of Breonna Taylor,” Aird said. “Today is a recognition of the end of a practice that has put the lives of law enforcement and those they come in contact with at risk. And today is validation for the many leaders and advocates that took to the streets right here in the commonwealth of Virginia to fight for the change that we will make today.”
No-knock warrants are rarely served in Virginia, but proponents of the bill say when they were, they were disproportionately done in communities of color. Under Virginia’s law, search warrants – with the exception of warrants for blood samples – must be served during daylight hours, and police must prove to a judge or magistrate the need for executing warrants in non-daylight.
Virginia becomes the third state, behind Florida and Oregon, to ban no-knocks, and the first to do so since Taylor was killed. Taylor’s family members said Monday they hoped the actions by Virginia will spur its neighboring state of Kentucky to follow suit.
The ceremonial signing was supposed to be held at the civil-rights monument on the state Capitol grounds, but inclement weather forced it inside the adjacent Patrick Henry Building. Attendees observed COVID-19 social-distancing protocols.
Everyone who spoke did so while wearing masks, with the exception of Taylor family attorney Ben Crump, who apologized for removing his mask. Crump said he did so “to make sure I am clear on the need of recording this for historical purposes this day.”
Follow Bill Atkinson of the Progress-Index on Twitter: @BAtkinson_PI
‘I will never forgive and I will never forget’: 79 Decembers later, Pearl Harbor survivor’s memories won’t dim