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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Memorial for Breonna Taylor is held in her hometown of Grand Rapids

Breonna Taylor

Over the course of 24 hours, hundreds of people visited the temporary memorial organized for Breonna Taylor in Downtown Grand Rapids.

Briana Ureña-Ravelo is one of the vigil’s organizers. She says she wants to bring visibility to Black women who are victims of state violence.

“So a lot of the protests and stuff you see across the country really got catalized after they saw the video of George Floyd being killed by police in Minneapolis and that’s good but again a month before, over a month before, Breonna Taylor was killed and there wasn’t as much attention.”

In March, officers dressed in plain clothes entered Taylor’s home after executing a no-knock warrant for an attempted drug bust. Taylor’s boyfriend thought someone was breaking in to rob them shooting at police in self-defense. The officers returned fire back striking Taylor eight times. She was sleeping on the couch. Taylor would have turned 27 years old this past Friday.

“So we are doing a joint event for her birthday, this is her city where she was born in and we want to honor, but also to bring a conversation to the point that Black women who are victims of state violence aren’t talked about as much.”  

Joseph Kuilema a professor of social work at Calvin University attended Saturday’s vigil.

“I think we need to be able to affirmed unequivocally that Black Lives Matter and that they matter to God and that they matter to this City and so until we are able to do that I think it’s important for us to show up and to continue to be at events like this and to say her name.”

Organizers had originally planned the vigil at Rosa Parks Circle but the Grand Rapids Police Department barred the gathering citing the park closes at 9pm. The Grand Rapids Art Museum also declined a request to host the vigil in its space.