The Herald Citizen

Posted July 1, 2020 at 8:00 am

As protests continue around the country, the youth-led movement in Cookeville marched to city hall Thursday, June 18, calling for justice for Breonna Taylor and in remembrance of black LGBT+ victims.

Organizers and attendees of the Youth for Inclusion Initiative met at Centennial Plaza at Tennessee Tech University before beginning their march at 4:45 p.m. They shared stories, amplified the voices of minority attendees and chanted.

One organizer said they were there to amplify black voices and rally the community to see the need for diversity and inclusion and that, while there are a lot of things that need to be fixed in the country, there are many that need to be fixed in the community.

“We are out here today to celebrate the life, legacy and fighting for George Floyd. We’re fighting for Breonna Taylor,” said Wolfgang Bronner, attendee. “What does it mean to fight for them? If we have to take everything that we have been through, everything that we will overcome. We’ll win.”

An EMT in Louisville, Taylor was killed by police in her home on March 13, after officers conducted a no-knock search warrant on her home. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired shots at what he believed were intruders in their home. Police returned fire, and Taylor was shot eight times.

Walker was charged with attempted murder for firing on police, but those charges have since been dropped. Police say they identified themselves as police, but reports claim that no body cameras were worn during the event.

Protests erupted across the country following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police on May 25. While officers have been charged with murder in the death of Floyd, officers involved in the shooting of Taylor have not been charged with any crime.

On June 11, Louisville Council members voted to ban no-knock warrants in the city.

Attendees marched through Centennial Plaza, down Mahler Avenue and then down Broad Street to attend the City Council meeting.

Daniella Dagostino with the Youth for Inclusion Initiative asked for the removal of Confederate statutes at the Cookeville City Cemetery and the abolishment of choke holds by police departments at the city council meeting.

Dagostino said her group was involved in the June 2 and June 6 protests at the Putnam County Courthouse. She and other members of the group said they’ve been brainstorming about what to do next.

“We want other people of color to share their stories,” she said.

Councilman Mark Miller said the Confederate monument at the city cemetery is not actually owned by the city. It’s privately owned.

It reads, “The Greatest Fighting Force Ever Assembled, The Confederate Soldiers 1861-1865.

“Not for fame or reward, not for place or rank, not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity, but simple obedience to duty as they understood it, these men suffered all, shared all–and died.” Rev. Dr. Randolph McKim (Confederate Soldiers Monument, Arlington National Cemetery.

“City councilmen couldn’t give us a plan of action today, but we still have plans that we are making,” said Elijah Anderson of the Youth of Inclusion Initiative to protesters who waited outside. “We got our foot in the door. We have to take baby steps. I’m not giving up, and I know you’re not giving up.”

This is the fourth rally or vigil to take place in Cookeville since June began. While protesters have remained peaceful, one Buffalo Valley man, Kevin Pullum, was charged with aggravated assault on a protester at the first really on the square.