A petition to rename a downtown Grand Rapids street to honor Breonna Taylor has gaining about 1,000 signatures in three days.
Taylor, who was shot and killed by Louisville police conducting a no-knock warrant in March, was born and raised in Grand Rapids. Many of her family members still live in the area.
"She went to school here. She walked these same streets. This was her home," Daevionne Smith, Taylor's cousin said.
The petition suggests changing the name of Monroe Center Street NW to Breonna Taylor Street, saying "the people of Michigan would give her the honor, dignity and respect she deserved on March 13, 2020."
Taylor's family and Justice for Black Lives (JFBL), partnered on the petition, drawing over 2,500 signatures in less than one week. JFBL said they will need roughly 3,000 signatures to present the plan to Grand Rapids City Council and Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. Conversations between the city and JFBL are ongoing.
"We’re going to try and meet with her this week and present our idea, see what she feels can happen, what’s realistic, whether it’s an official name change or an honorary name change. Either one, us at Justice for Black Lives and the family feel would be appropriate," Rori Harris, Founding Leader at JFBL said.
Taylor's family said they feel the location of the potential street change is appropriate, as Rosa Parks Circle sits alongside it.
"Breonna Taylor, she’s our 2020 Rosa Parks, so it’s only fair she’d be recognized in the same light. You have to remember, Rosa Parks wouldn't sit down. Breonna Taylor died laying down," Erica Eaves, Taylor's cousin said.
Taylor's death received renewed attention after George Floyd's death put police brutality and killings in the national spotlight. In Grand Rapids, a protest was organized in her honor, and a 24-hour vigil was set up on Monroe Center Street on her June 5 birthday.
While Taylor's family said they appreciate the support they have received, they are encouraging more people to get involved to make change.
"Michigan is a no-knock warrant state, so if you want to say her name, you need to still do the research," Eaves said, adding that the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement is offering an opportunity for Black individuals and allies to create change in policies, such as Breonna's Law, which passed unanimously in Louisville. The law, named in honor of Taylor, outlaws "no-knock" warrants and requires law enforcement's body cameras to be turned on before and after every search.
A similar proposal was presented by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday.
Taylor's family also expressed frustration the officers involved in her death have not been charged. One has been fired from the department.
"Why is it taking so long for them to be charged with her murder? They are murderers," Smith said.
Monroe Center Street is one of the main stretches in downtown Grand Rapids, and it has been the origin point for several protests in recent weeks. Rosa Parks Circle was originally called Campau Square. It was renamed in 2001.
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