On March 19th, police in Louisville, Kentucky incorrectly served a no-knock warrant on the wrong door; 109 days later, and we still have not arrested the cops that murdered Breonna Taylor in her own home, nor have we done away with ‘No-Knock Warrants’ on a national level.
Only one of on duty cops has been removed from active duty, and none of them have been arrested. It is our job to not let her pass in vain, we need to say her name; then call local officials, and make them say it, too – and then make them revoke their laws on “no knock warrants”.
So, what is a “No Knock Warrant”:
According to Cornell’s Law School: “A no-knock warrant is a search warrant authorizing police officers to enter certain premises without first knocking and announcing their presence or purpose prior to entering the premises. Such warrants are issued where an entry pursuant to the knock-and-announce rule (ie. an announcement prior to entry) would lead to the destruction of the objects for which the police are searching or would compromise the safety of the police or another individual.“
Historically, no-knock warrants have been used for drug raids, or situations where the police believe there is a high likelihood of evidence being destroyed if they make themselves announced. On the face of it, the law seems relatively harmless and appropriate – until you begin to factor in how the Drug War in the United States has disproportionately targeted minorities, specifically the Black community; the shackles on our feet are no longer chains, but prison sentences. No knock warrants are disproportionately served in lower income and minority communities than anywhere else in the country.
According to reporting from the New York Times back in 2017: “Thousands of times a year, these “dynamic entry” raids exploit the element of surprise to effect seizures and arrests of neighborhood drug dealers. But they have also led time and again to avoidable deaths, gruesome injuries, demolished property, enduring trauma, blackened reputations and multimillion-dollar legal settlements at taxpayer expense..“
In a six year span, from 2010 through 2016, over 81 civilians as well as 13 officers were killed during SWAT raids; that statistic also includes 31 civilians and eight officers during execution of no-knock warrants. Of the citizens that were the subject of those SWAT warrants: 42% are Black and 12% are Hispanic, where only 18% of the population is Hispanic and 13% is Black.
This brings us back to Breonna Taylor. Miss Taylor wasn’t just the subject of a no-knock warrant, but one that was executed at the wrong address. The police were pursuing drug traffickers, and broke into Taylor’s home unannounced. Her boyfriend, believing they were the subject of a home invasion, fired a shot – and the police responded by emptying round after round into Taylor. Fast forward to now, and the city of Louisville has passed ‘Breonna’s Law‘ – which not only bans no-knock warrants but requires the officers serving out other warrants to have their body cameras on.
But, what about everywhere else?
Out of the 50 states, and 1 district in the USA: no-knock warrants may be issued in every state except Oregon and Florida. 13 states have laws explicitly authorizing no-knock warrants and in twenty additional states no-knock warrants are routinely granted.
Call your local senators, city council and congressional folks to re-evaluate their needs of No Knock Warrants and pass legislation ending them on local, state and federal levels.