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Minneapolis protest demands justice for Vanessa Guillen, Breonna Taylor, women lost to state violence

By Brad Sigal |
July 28, 2020
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Minneapolis protest demands justice for women lost to state violence.
Minneapolis protest demands justice for women lost to state violence. (Photo by Brad Sigal)

Minneapolis, MN - On July 18, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis to demand justice for women lost to state violence. Organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), the protest focused on Vanessa Guillen and Breonna Taylor. The dual focus on Vanessa Guillen, who was Latina, and Breonna Taylor, who was Black, aimed to build unity between Black and Latino communities as well as other communities in the struggle for justice.

The protest took place in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. After a lakeside rally at Bde Mka Ska, protesters marched to the intersection of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street, one of the busiest spots in the city, where they held a rally in the intersection for around a half hour.

Several people spoke there about the need for justice for Breonna Taylor and Vanessa Guillen. Then in the middle of the intersection, protesters took turns breaking open two piñatas that were in the shape of pigs, one with a police insignia and one with an ICE insignia.

After the speakers and piñatas, the protesters marched back to Bde Mka Ska for a closing rally, ending just before the skies opened up with heavy rains.

Vanessa Guillen was a 20-year-old Latina U.S. Army soldier who went missing on April 22 from Fort Hood in Texas and was missing for months. Her remains were finally found on June 30, having been brutally murdered and dismembered by a sergeant. Before she went missing, Guillen had told her family that she was being sexually harassed by a sergeant and that complaints by other female soldiers made against him had been dismissed.

Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old Black woman who was murdered by the Louisville Metro Police Department on March 13, when three plainclothes cops executed a no-knock search warrant on her apartment. Taylor’s boyfriend said they thought that the plainclothes cops were intruders. When they tried to defend themselves in their own home, the cops fired more than 20 rounds, murdering Breonna Taylor.

In addition to demanding justice for Guillen and Taylor, speakers highlighted other cases of women murdered by the police. A speaker from Native Lives Matter demanded justice for the many Native women murdered by the police. An Afro-Brazilian speaker talked about the case of Marielle Franco, a Black socialist woman active against police brutality in Brazil who was on the city council in Rio de Janeiro and was assassinated by right-wing former police officers in 2018.

The protesters made three demands in response to the murder of Vanessa Guillen: shut down Fort Hood (Vanessa’s case is not the only one like this there); stop setting up military recruitment stations in high schools, especially in low-income schools, and a congressional investigation for Guillen.

In response to the murder of Breonna Taylor the protesters raised four demands: that the Louisville mayor and city council address the use of force by the Louisville Metro Police Department; fire and revoke the pensions of the officers that murdered Taylor; arrest, charge and convict them for this crime and ensure special prosecutor Daniel Cameron seeks full transparency and accountability; provide all necessary information to a local, independent civilian community police accountability council, and create policy for transparent investigation process due to law enforcement misconduct.

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