Twitter users are calling each other out for turning a call for justice for Breonna Taylor into a meme.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was sleeping on March 13 when white police officers forcibly entered her Louisville, Kentucky home without warning in what’s known as a “no-knock warrant.” Her boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired his gun, and in response, the police fired back. They shot Taylor at least eight times, the New York Times reports.
The police were looking into two men who they suspected were selling drugs, and using Taylor’s address to receive packages, according to the Courier Journal. The “no-knock” warrant the judge issued, which allowed the police to enter without a warning or identifying themselves as law enforcement, has since been banned in Louisville.
After the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, daily protests against police brutality have ignited across the world. In addition to other victims of police brutality, Breonna Taylor has become a widely known name as the Black Lives Matter movement memorializes her in its marches. The phrase “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” became something of a social media mantra for those seeking justice. One of the police officers involved in Taylor’s shooting was fired this week, three months after her death. None of the officers involved have been arrested.
But as social media users repeated the phrase in hopes of spreading awareness and gaining visibility, Taylor’s death became an insensitive meme. Similar to the Epstein meme, in which social media users repeated the phrase “Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself” until the words lost all meaning, Twitter and Instagram users turned Taylor into the punchline of a joke. The meme is formatted with a lead-up, usually unrelated to police brutality or the Black Lives Matter movement, drawing the audience in. Then, the meme creator finishes with “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”
While the posts may seem well meaning to the creators, Twitter users expressed their discomfort at their brevity. The meme belittles her memory and the larger struggle to end police brutality, critics have pointed out.
breonna taylor’s death being commodified into a meme is really enough to tell me that y’all do not actually value the personhood of black women
— hispanic-depressive | protect black women (@daniellecanyell) June 24, 2020
“Arrest the three police who murdered Breonna Taylor” is well on it’s way to “Epstein didn’t kill himself” land. The actual clear, vital message becomes a meme. People will make ‘clever’ posts that end in these statements. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up on coffee mugs. pic.twitter.com/RdYANyQqQr
— HOT TOPIC CURBSIDE PICK-UP (@LilDimSum69) June 23, 2020
If I am murdered by the police do not ever make a meme out of me.
— Maya Angelique👑 (@moneyymaya) June 25, 2020
Stop writing weird pithy tweets and ending it with “and arrest the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor”. Stop trying to make it cute. Not everything needs to be made palatable or turned into a meme
— Bolu Babalola (@BeeBabs) June 25, 2020
Breonna Taylor is not a meme, and neither is her death. She is a Black woman with a life and a story and a personality and loved ones. Please consider this before your next quirky post or retweet.
— Beyoncé✨ (@Miss_Ethiopiaa) June 23, 2020
Breonna Taylor’s murder is not a joke. It’s not a meme. It’s not meant for your get clear skin tweet to go viral. She was a real Black woman who was murdered in her own home. Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove are the cops who murdered her not just some cops.
— Nylah 🦥 (@itsny01_) June 24, 2020
“Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” becoming a meme instead of a deadly serious demand is some intensely frustrating shit
Do these people seriously think they’re helping? This is not fun and games or a laughing matter it makes me sick pic.twitter.com/kEouKbTGnV
— Kevin DiBiase (@Hylianhero777) June 22, 2020
To joke about someone’s death is dark enough, but to joke about an innocent person who was brutally killed because of a flaw in an unjust system is even worse. Before you turn a victim of police violence into the punchline of a meme, consider taking action to change the system instead.