GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — At around 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, dozens of people gathered near the Rosa Parks statue to watch a city construction worker mount the street sign Breonna Taylor Way below the sign already there Monroe Center NW.
As soon as it was mounted, the crowd shouted in unison “say her name, Breonna Taylor” and family members hugged and cried.
Ceremony for “Breonna Taylor Way” about to start soon at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids ... Family of Taylor holding scissors they will use for the ribbon-cutting event. // @FOX17 #BreonnaTaylor #BreeGrandRapids pic.twitter.com/s4rQ4GxWnZ— Lauren Edwards (@LaurenEdwardsTV) December 4, 2020
“It is a win. It’s actually amazing to see our city finally say we need to stand up to racial injustice,”said Taylor’s cousin Tawanna Gordon. “Today, I’m excited. I’m excited to see Tamika because she’s here and today, I just want to celebrate Bree Way. I just want to celebrate the street change. I just want to celebrate family and our unity. “
Tamika Palmer is Taylor’s mom. She joined Gordon on stage but was too emotional to speak. Gordon spoke about the family’s determination to fight for justice for Taylor. Back during the dark early morning hours of March 13, Taylor was shot and killed in her and her boyfriend’s home by Louisville police.
“It’s been rough because if we are being honest Louisville kind of just tends to put out a light everywhere. You know every time we think that we have a win, we figure out that we don’t,” Gordon said. “But like I said in my speech today we’re just going to keep fighting. The pathway to this day, it’s just unstoppable.”
Taylor’s death sparked nationwide protests, including in her hometown of Grand Rapids. The 26-year-old was born and raised in the city before moving to Louisville and later becoming an emergency room technician there.
“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been working on this petition all summer with obviously the permission of Breonna Taylor’s Family,” said Aly Bates, founder and president of Justice For Black Lives. “We’ve been calling city commissioners. We met with Commissioner [Nathaniel] Moody about this. So it’s like a closing chapter to all the hard work that we’ve been putting into this and I’m very excited for this to be happening.”
Immediately following Taylor’s death, Justice For Black Lives began gathering signatures in an effort to have part of Monroe Center NW dedicated to Taylor. They quickly reached 4,000 signatures and then presented the petition to the city. In October, city commissioners voted unanimously to officially dedicate the street to Taylor.
The family said they were grateful for everyone's help in making it happen.
“We are just completely astounded that this day has come and we are so excited that people can walk down here,” Gordon said. “And the hope is that they just feel her spirit when they’re here. The hopes is that they feel the need to befriend someone they don’t know, to love on people just because.”
Because that's who Taylor was, Gordon said.