Despite the grand jury’s ruling, this is far from over Thursday, Oct 8 2020 

By Catherine Brown-

A grand jury convened to determine whether LMPD officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove would be under indictment for the murder of Breonna Taylor. On Sept. 23, the jury charged only one officer, Hankison, with three counts of wanton endangerment.

This means that the officer is accused of endangering Taylor’s neighbors when he shot into the surrounding apartment walls. No officer was charged for killing Taylor, an innocent black woman who was asleep in her bedroom.

The protests following her death have made an impact on some policy. Since protests have started, we’ve seen progress in getting justice for Breonna Taylor and for the Black community of Louisville.

Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, tweeted a list of impacts that protests have made in Louisville.

In this list, she includes the exiting of former Police Chief Robert Schroeder, who was replaced by interim Police Chief Yvette Gentry. Gentry is the first black female police chief for the LMPD, a point which Reynolds notes in her list.

“I know some want total defunding but whatever exists in this country should include us,” Reynolds said.

She also lists that LMPD is receiving a top to bottom review, and body cameras are now mandatory for search warrants.

Additionally, social programs are being implemented for the west end. These programs will build 100 homes in the west end for Black homeowners. Reynolds says corporations are even donating gifts to support rebuilding in the area. Social workers are also becoming involved in family resettlement.

These are just a few of the progressions made for the local community.

Kentucky State Representative Attica Scott and her daughter Ashanti, a political science major at U of L, were arrested after demonstrating in a Breonna Taylor protest on Sept. 24. Scott recently introduced “Breonna’s Law,” which seeks to ban no-knock warrants in Kentucky.

The two were participating in the protest and were seeking sanctuary at the First Unitarian Church, a church in downtown Louisville that was open after curfew. Houses of worship were exempt from the curfew policy.

Scott said she was arrested at 8:58 p.m., curfew started at 9 p.m.

“There was never a need for no-knock search warrants like the one used in Breonna’s case, and while this type of warrant is now banned here in Metro Louisville and appears to have little use elsewhere, I want to make sure statewide law keeps it from ever coming back. In addition, I want to make sure a judge specifically approves any use of violent entry when a warrant is carried out, and I want all law enforcement officers to have to wear body cameras and be required to use them when serving any warrant.”

In the law, she states videos would have to be made available when complaints are filed. Those that violate these requirements will face suspension or even termination. She always wants law enforcement officers to undergo a drug and alcohol screening after a deadly incident or firing a weapon while on duty.

We have quite a long way to go until justice is ever met though. Hankison was only in jail for a little more than half an hour. Due to the double jeopardy defense, he will not be brought back to trial for re-sentencing on the same charge as before. But the public understands that the murder of a black woman not only in Louisville, but anywhere in the world, will not be tolerated nor will we forget the crime.

Breonna deserves justice. Don’t stop saying her name and continue fighting.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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As More Protests Loom, Urban League President Urges ‘Strategic’ Fight Friday, May 29 2020 

Louisville Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds went to Thursday night’s protests to show support for Breonna Taylor’s family, and to call for much needed reforms to the way black people are treated in Louisville, she said.

But she will not be attending any protests Friday night, and cautioned people that violence and anger will not change these deeply ingrained systems.

“We cannot continue to kill ourselves in an attempt to cope with the pain of our existence in this space,” she said during a Friday afternoon press conference outside the Urban League offices. “Our fight must be strategic.”

Reynolds applauded the efforts the city has undertaken, including Friday’s announcement that no-knock warrants would be temporarily suspended. But she said there is so much more work to be done — and it shouldn’t have to fall on black protesters to do it.

“That work belongs to white people,” she said.

That is why she said she cannot condone protesters taking to the streets Friday night. She said she won’t be there, and she won’t allow her children to attend either. She worries that the peaceful protests planned by the community will turn violent from outside agitators.

But she understands the anger that is coursing through the city’s black community right now.

“People want accountability, accountability for officers who can do better, and choose not to in black communities,” she said. “We are beyond tired. Breonna Taylor is not the first but we are committed to making her the last in this community.”

As she spoke, it began to rain.

“Our city is crying,” she said, her mascara running down her face. “The rain is appropriate. We are saying: Bre is the last one.”

Louisville Urban League’s Track Gets $5 Million And A Name From Norton Healthcare Monday, Oct 14 2019 

The Louisville Urban League announced a major fundraising gift for its track and field project Monday; it’s the first of this scale in nearly a year. But CEO and president Sadiqa Reynolds said the nonprofit isn’t done yet.

Norton Healthcare pledged $5 million to the project in the form of a $3 million grant and an additional $2 million matching challenge, and with that bought the naming rights to the facility. It will be known as the Norton Sports Health Athletics & Learning Complex.

City and nonprofit leaders hailed the investment as a major commitment to a project that some say could contribute to transforming the West End of Louisville, which has suffered from discriminatory policies and a lack of investment for decades.

“It’s the right thing to do, and it’s way past time to do it.,” said Russell Cox, president and CEO of Norton Healthcare, of the investment.

Norton Sports Health Athletics & Learning Complex

A rendering of the Norton Sports Health Athletics & Learning Complex.

Reynolds, typically outspoken, was cautiously celebratory after a press conference Monday morning.

“I feel pretty good today,” she said. “I have to keep it in perspective, or I get a little bit overwhelmed just thinking about it all, but I do. I feel good.”

The Norton investment brings the total for the facility’s capital campaign to about $24 million.

Amina Elahi |

Sadiqa Reynolds of the Louisville Urban League and Russell Cox of Norton Healthcare at the naming announcement on Monday, October 14, 2019.

Last November, the James Graham Brown Foundation put in $3 million. The project also got $10 million from Louisville Metro via a bond, which was almost held up amid last spring’s budget confusion.

In June, the Louisville Urban League launched a campaign called Run With Us, through which it aimed to raise $20 million by selling naming rights to the complex’s 4,000 seats for $5,000 apiece. When the group broke ground on the site in August, it raised about $300,000 that day from seat sales.

Reynolds said Monday that overall seat sales have been fine, but not as strong as she expected. They’ve sold about 250 seats.

There are more fundraising opportunities to consider, too. Reynolds said Opportunity Zone investment is an option, as are New Markets Tax Credits. She said the Urban League could net about $6 million from those credits.

For more context on how the track and field complex fits into overall development taking place in west Louisville, listen to this episode of Here Today:

‘Miracle’ On 30th Street: Urban League Breaks Ground On Sports Complex Tuesday, Aug 27 2019 

By the end of 2020, the Louisville Urban League plans to transform 24 acres of contaminated land in west Louisville into an indoor-outdoor track and field complex that will be a place for families and students to gather and learn.

Political, faith and community leaders joined Sadiqa Reynolds, CEO and president of the Louisville Urban League, to break ground on the abandoned site at 30th St. and Muhammad Ali Blvd. on Tuesday afternoon.

The event was part celebration, part fundraiser, with Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey (D-3) leading the gathered crowd in a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and supporters pledging nearly $300,000 in funds for the project.

That brought the total raised to nearly $19 million, although Reynolds said the group needs $40 million to execute her complete vision, which includes an indoor track on hydraulics that can be lowered to host concerts or fencing competitions, outdoor wildlife classrooms, bowling alleys and healthy food concessions.

Amina Elahi |

Pastor F. Bruce Williams leads supporters of the Louisville Urban League track and field complex in prayer.

It was a scene embedded with faith, with Pastor F. Bruce Williams of Bates Memorial Baptist Church opening the ceremony with a prayer.

“Father, we thank you for this moment,” he began. “We believe that this is holy ground. And that you and your mysterious Providence has kept this in Divine escrow, for this moment, for this revolutionary purpose.”

Later, Reynolds recalled her prayers for a solution when the Foodport project planned for the site — which had been contaminated by tobacco manufacturers and subsequently became vacant — fell through.

She said she sees it as an answer to the redlining and neglect that afflicted this area and led to its current economically depressed state.

“To me, an investment in this project is an exact response to a redlining report,” Reynolds said. “You are saying, ‘We have read the data, we have seen the data, it is broken policy that has created this and we are going to invest in the fix.”

Amina Elahi |

30th and Muhammad Ali, the future site of the Louisville Urban League’s Sports and Learning Complex

Reynolds referred to the “miracle” of getting the projects to this point, which she said is enough to fund the first phase of the complex. That includes building the outdoor track and purchasing a prefabricated building to house the indoor track.

And she said the groundbreaking doesn’t mark the end of the League’s fundraising campaign. Earlier this summer, the group launched a marketing effort to raise $20 million by selling naming rights to the facility’s planned 4,000 seats for $5,000 apiece.

On Tuesday, individuals and groups purchased more than three dozen seats. Reynolds said there are “plenty” more available, though she did not give more detail.

The complex is one of four major projects currently planned for west Louisville. The others are a new YMCA that will open this fall, the redevelopment of Beecher Terrace and the stalled Passport corporate headquarters. Learn more about them here.

Last week, the League purchased the land — which was recently declared a surplus property by Louisville Metro — for $1. If The city also invested $10 million into the project through a bond.

Louisville Urban League partners with UofL to serve underemployed, unemployed Thursday, Aug 1 2019 

Four Louisville-based entities are partnering to support a paid training program that will teach unemployed and underemployed members of the Louisville community high-demand IT skills. The Louisville Skills program, which is being supported by the Louisville Urban League, Humana, the University of Louisville and Interapt, will teach 25 people skills needed to work in a […]

Louisville Urban League lands $1 million donation, is over halfway to fundraising goal Friday, Jul 26 2019 

The new renderings of the Louisville Urban League track and field complex

The Louisville Urban League got a major boost in its fundraising efforts to build a track and field complex on the West End, as the Gheens Foundation has made a $1 million donation, Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds told Insider Thursday. With the donation, the Urban League has now raised $18.6 million, putting them over […]