By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer, Video by Madison Martin | Broadcast Reporter
Three Baylor students took to social media to organize a peaceful protest after hearing the grand jury decision on the Breonna Taylor case. The protest took place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Waco Suspension Bridge. More than 50 people attended the event.
The protest was in response to the Wednesday morning announcement that a Kentucky grand jury had decided to indict one of the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers for wanton endangerment — and not for murder — after fatally shooting Breonna Taylor in March. The other two officers were not charged.
Tyler senior Morgan Koziol said she and the other organizers teamed up with local organization Change Waco to organize the protest. They tweeted information regarding the protest and posted to their Instagram in order to get the word out.
“I was just kind of angry reading the tweets [about Breonna Taylor’s verdict], and so I texted my friend Brittany and I was like ‘can we organize something for tonight?’” Koziol said. “Then we got Addy involved on Twitter and then all three of us made a group message and just sort of came up with how to do everything, and then Change Waco was also advising us as well.”
Koziol said she believed the peaceful protest would encourage those participating to reach out to those representing their community.
“I think it definitely brings awareness to the issues and helps people make steps towards progress,” Koziol said. “For instance, we’re going to be calling congressmen and just sort of stepping towards change instead of just sitting around complaining about the issues. We’re actually going to be taking action.”
The organizers provided QR codes for protesters to use to register to vote and encouraged the them to download the app 5 Calls. The app prompts users to put in their zip code in order to connect them with the numbers of their respective representatives’ offices.
One of the other organizers, Allen senior Addy Mims, said she was “saddened” by the verdict announced Wednesday. Mims said her reaction as a woman of color was “Man, I have to do something.”
“I live in this really nice area of privilege at Baylor, and so I’m not necessarily affected the same way Breonna Taylor was, who should not have died the way she did,” Mims said.
Fellow organizer Spring senior Brittany Lavergne led chants throughout the protest, including “black lives matter,” “say her name — Breonna Taylor” and “no justice, no peace.”
After calling their representatives, the crowd laid and kneeled down for five minutes of silence. Philadelphia sophomore Zak Allen said this was the first protest he has attended in Waco.
“We continue to see injustice faced upon the Black community, and we’re out here just trying to express our distaste for the verdict that came out today,” Allen said. “We’re out here trying to start making that difference somehow by getting our community together.”
Allen said seeing so many young people gathered made him feel “a lot better.”
“I feel oftentimes, especially in the Black community, we see our parents and our grandparents talking about all the different things they did in their time,” Allen said. “So now we’re taking our opportunity to become our own leaders and step into our own different positions, and I feel like that’s great to see.”