We speak with Kentucky state Representative Attica Scott, a Democrat who serves on the House Education Committee, about the Breonna Taylor case and her own arrest in September during a protest in Louisville. She now faces charges of first-degree rioting, failure to disperse and unlawful assembly, along with her daughter and 22 others. “We are determined to get justice for Breonna Taylor,” says Scott. “No law enforcement body is going to stop us from exercising our First Amendment rights.” Rep. Scott also discusses the controversial role of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron in the case, who is a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Click here to see Part 1 of our interview with Rep. Scott and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Taylor’s family.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue to look at the police killing of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old African American EMT, emergency medical technician, who lived in Louisville, shot to death last March in her own home by officers executing a no-knock warrant.
On Friday, Kentucky Attorney General [Daniel] Cameron released 15 hours of audiotapes from the disputed grand jury proceedings. They confirmed that Cameron did not ask jurors to consider homicide charges for the white police officers who fired 32 times into Taylor’s apartment, striking her with six bullets. Now Breonna Taylor’s family wants a new special prosecutor to reopen the case.
We continue with our conversation with Kentucky state Representative Attica Scott. In 2016, she became the first African American woman to serve in Kentucky’s state Legislature in 20 years. Last month, she and hundreds protested in downtown Louisville and were live-streaming when police surrounded her group.
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: Where do you want us to go? Where do you want us to go? Where do you want us to go?
POLICE OFFICER 1: Circle them!
POLICE OFFICER 2: Go back!
POLICE OFFICER 1: Circle them!
POLICE OFFICER 2: Go back!
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: They say they’re circling us.
POLICE OFFICER 3: Stay back.
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: OK.
POLICE OFFICER 1: Get down now! Sit down! Sit down now!
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: Y’all, they want to kill us.
POLICE OFFICER 4: Ma’am, is your phone recording?
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: Yes, it is.
POLICE OFFICER 4: You might want to turn it off. That way, it doesn’t get broke, OK? Turn it off. Put it in your pocket. OK?
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: All right, y’all.
POLICE OFFICER 4: All right. Go ahead and turn it off. Put it in your pocket. I’m trying to be as nice as I can.
AMY GOODMAN: The police telling her to turn off her phone. That’s Attica Scott, her daughter and 22 others, now face charges of first-degree rioting, failure to disperse and unlawful assembly. We continue with Part 2 of our conversation with Democratic state Representative Attica Scott, joining us from Louisville.
So, you face a Class D felony charge. Isn’t that the same thing that the fired detective, Brett Hankison, now faces, the only one of the three charged in the case of Breonna Taylor, not for her killing?
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: Yes, Amy. Thank you so much again for having me. You’re absolutely correct. We are receiving the same charge as Brett Hankison, who spent 32 minutes in jail. We spent 10 hours in jail. And we were accused of felony rioting. He murdered Breonna Taylor. And he is not even being charged with her murder. It is with shooting into the apartment of her white neighbors, apartment three, not her apartment, apartment four.
AMY GOODMAN: So, can you talk about these protests, what you’re demanding at this point? And you’re a state legislator, so what you’re demanding at a state level? Louisville City Council banned no-knock warrants, how the police moved into her apartment, but talk about how you’re trying to take this statewide in Kentucky.
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: Definitely, Amy. And it’s so important for people to know that this movement is sustained, because we’re very clear that protests and policy go hand in hand.
So, right now we’re working on Breonna’s Law for Kentucky. We have 11 legislative co-sponsors from across the commonwealth. And we have almost 4,000 individuals, people, community folks, who have signed on as community sponsors of Breonna’s Law for Kentucky. Our legislative session begins in January 2021. So we’re building that momentum for our legislative session.
What Breonna’s Law for Kentucky will do is go a little bit further than the local law. What it will do is end these no-knock death warrants, as we’re calling them because they did lead to the murder of Breonna Taylor. They will also mandate that when issuing a search warrant, five minutes before and five minutes after, law enforcement must have body cameras on their bodies and turned on. And it will also mandate that officers immediately are alcohol- and drug-tested when they are involved in shootings and other violent incidences, because we’re very clear we cannot have officers wandering around for, you know, over an hour, where we have no idea where they are or what they’re doing.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Daniel Cameron, the attorney general, who now is admitting that he did not instruct the grand jury to bring manslaughter charges, to bring murder charges, but had recommended wanton endangerment? Now one and apparently two grand jurors are demanding to be able to be heard, to be able to speak publicly about what they were presented with and what they understood. But we’re talking about the attorney general of Kentucky. The senior senator, there, of course, is Mitch McConnell, who is the Senate majority leader. Can you talk about the links between Senator McConnell and Daniel Cameron, who we saw this summer addressing the Republican National Convention?
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: I’ll start with saying, how much of a failure must he be that two grand jurors have said, “We’re going to do something that has never happened before in this country, and we’re going to speak out about these proceedings and how corrupt they were”? How corrupt, inept and a failure you must be as an attorney general to have the grand jury members speak out in this way.
I will also say that we, as Kentuckians, were very clear from the beginning — many of us, who cared about racial justice, were very clear in the beginning that Daniel Cameron was Mitch McConnell’s appointed successor. So, he’s probably going to run for Mitch McConnell’s seat, or he’s going to run for governor. So all of this is very political for Daniel Cameron. He’s speaking to his base, when he says that he’s not going to bring any other charges, beyond wanton endangerment, against the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. We are very clear about that. He is trying to rile up his base, speak to them, get money from them, so that when he decides to run for another office in either, you know, 2024 or sometime after that, he will have the support that he’s looking for. We are very clear about that.
AMY GOODMAN: He is the first African American attorney general ever to serve in Kentucky, is that right?
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: That is absolutely correct. We also know that just because you have a Black face does not mean that you are fighting for our race. And in this case, that is what we believe about Daniel Cameron. He has a Black face, but he is not fighting for us as Black people.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Attica Scott, you had COVID in September. Can you talk about your experience? I mean, I think it’s particularly interesting, as we move on from the Breonna Taylor case, that it’s not exactly moving on, because Breonna Taylor herself was an aspiring nurse. She was an EMT. She dealt with COVID patients.
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: Yeah. And my daughter, who’s a teenager, wanted to be an EMT. And then, after the murder of Breonna Taylor, said to me, “It didn’t keep her safe from police violence. So I’m not sure that that’s what I want to do anymore.”
And yes, I had COVID in September, and I chose to self-quarantine for 14 days. It’s part of the reason I’m so disgusted by the president and all of his shenanigans right now with COVID-19 and the fact that he doesn’t care about anyone, not anyone, even his family and his closest staff members, that he he is choosing to keep continuing to expose people to COVID. So, yes, I had COVID, chose to self-quarantine for 14 days. Mine was mostly upper respiratory, shortness of breath and a lingering cough. And I’m very fortunate that that was the extent of my COVID-19, particularly since, from the very beginning, I’ve done everything that I possibly could to keep myself healthy and safe, but also the people that I was around.
And as a legislator and the only Black woman legislator in Kentucky, I was mocked by my own colleagues at the beginning of March when I was wearing a mask and physically distancing from people. And that, you know, is unfortunate, that even in the beginning there were people who were trying to turn COVID, the coronavirus, into a political issue.
AMY GOODMAN: And if you can talk about Mitch McConnell’s stance on COVID, representing your state, Kentucky?
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: He doesn’t really represent Kentucky. He’s someone who is holding a space that he does not deserve and that we all deserve much better. So, I’ll just say — start with saying that.
But I’ll also say that he is very much like the president. He could care less about the people of this country, let alone the people of Kentucky, because if he did care about us, he would make sure that every single coronavirus relief package truly did benefit the people of the United States, in employment, in education, in housing. But he is not doing that.
And he chose, in the very beginning, to not take the coronavirus seriously and not wear a mask and not physically distance himself from other people. So, he sent a message to his base that he didn’t take the coronavirus seriously, and they responded accordingly.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, can you talk about the race between Amy McGrath, the former marine, who is challenging Mitch McConnell for his seat?
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: Definitely. And I will say directly to Amy McGrath, you must step up. Black lives matter. And if you are going to be the next senator from the commonwealth of Kentucky, then you need to acknowledge structural racism, systemic racism, institutional racism, and make it very clear to us how you’re going to address that, in order for us to be able to support you. Mitch McConnell has to go, but you also have to step up.
AMY GOODMAN: And how do you think that race is going? Interestingly, for people to understand who are outside of Kentucky, this is the primary race where Charles Booker, the state legislator, African American state legislator, who entered late in the race, had this remarkable surge at the end of the primary. He was in the streets. He was protesting in the Black Lives Matter protests. Ultimately, he lost, but it was very close. And Amy McGrath, who had a lot of national money, prevailed, and she’s the one who’s now challenging Mitch McConnell.
REP. ATTICA SCOTT: That’s right. And my colleague and friend, Representative Booker, I definitely supported him and look forward to whatever else he decides to do in the future.
What I will say is that currently Amy McGrath is down. She’s behind McConnell. And although we know that the polls can can be misleading, that they are not always true, we do know that she’s currently down by a double digit. So there’s a lot more work that she has to do in this less than a month that we have before Election Day. So, she’s got to get on the ground here in Kentucky, from eastern Appalachia to the rural areas of western Kentucky and right here in urban areas like Lexington and Louisville in northern Kentucky.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Attica Scott, I want to thank you very much for taking this time, Democratic state representative in Kentucky. In 2016, she became the first African American woman to serve in Kentucky’s state Legislature in 20 years. To see Part 1 of our discussion, go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. Thank you for joining us.