TAMIKA MALLORY, WARRIOR QUEEN
Some people first saw civil rights activist Tamika Mallory when she was one of four leaders of the 2017 Women's March. Her activism hardly began there. From her teen years, the now 43-year-old activist was part of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network. In 2013, she became NAN's youngest executive director. In 2016, she was one of the four co-chairs of the highly successful 2017 Women's March. In 2019, Tamika, Mysonne Linen, Angelo Pinto, and fellow women’s march co-chair Linda Sarsour founded Until Freedom, a nonprofit organization for “community activism, education, and rapid response around tragedies resulting from injustice."
Mallory has earned awards and accolades from Time Magazine, Fortune Magazine, BET, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and others. She has also attracted the ire of racists and recently has received death threats that both the police and the FBI consider "credible." While the threats don't frighten her, they concern those who support her work. Roland Martin, the pioneering founder of the Black Star Network, featured a segment on the threats she is receiving.
Tamika is being threatened because she does not back down, warrior that she is. She spent time in Kentucky in the wake of the murder of Breona Taylor, working with Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer, and with the community. She was outraged, as many were, that the African American Attorney General of Kentucky, Daniel Cameron, described Breonna Taylor's murder as "justifiable". Now, Daniel Cameron is the Republican nominee to unseat Democratic governor Andy Beshear in a November 7 election. Tamika Mallory and her colleagues in Until Freedom have determined that Cameron will not be the governor.
Until Freedom (untilfreedom.com) launched a voter engagement campaign to register voters and educate them about the harmful impact Daniel Cameron might have on Kentucky. They opened an office in Louisville in September. And Tamika and her team have endured death threats from their opponents. These aren't the idle death threats of phone calls and hang-ups. These death threats suggest that the Until Freedom team has been stalked and followed. Upon their arrival in Lousiville, several hotels reported getting calls looking for Tamika Mallory and the others. They now have private security and some police protection, and, as A. Scott Bolden, a DC-based Democratic lawyer, noted on Roland Martin Unfiltered, "Tamika is a fearsome fighter. Threats aren't going to stop her." Still, the threats must be anxiety-producing, and the FBI must leave no stone unturned in identifying the cowards who oppose both Tamika and justice.
Because of how Cameron presented the case against the Louisville officers who murdered Breonna Taylor, no one was indicted for her death. The officers shot into her home, using a no-knock warrant as their justification. At least two grand jury members say Cameron did not present all of the facts. The Department of Justice has brought charges to a federal grand jury, and four have been indicted. Kelly Ann Goodlett has pled guilty to conspiracy because she knew there was no basis for the invasion into Breonna's home but conspired with another officer to justify the warrant. She will be sentenced in November and faces up to 5 years in jail and up to $250,000 in fines.
The other three-- Joshua Jaynes, Brett Hankison, and Kyle Meany – were arrested and released on bond. They face trials in mid-October. Other officers were not indicted either because they did not know the warrant was faulty or "there wasn't enough evidence" against them. In bringing indictments against the four officers, however, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke ensured that there would be at least some measure of justice for Breonna Taylor.
Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump represented Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer, in a wrongful death settlement against Louisville. He won both a $12 million settlement and police reforms, including the abolishment of the no-knock warrant. That's partial justice. Real justice will come when the man who described Breonna’s murder as “justifiable.” And if Tamika Mallory has anything to do with it, his callous response to the death of a young Black woman will end his political career (or he can work for his ally, the (twice impeached former president).
Tamika Mallory has become part of the Louisville Black community. She has developed a close relationship with Tamika Palmer and has also become a known presence in the city. She has visited churches, been a presence on the streets, and, through Until Freedom, channeled nearly a million dollars into the community. Her organization has also fed thousands of people and has become a resource for Black people in Louisville. While this Warrior Queen hails from New York, she plans to stay in Louisville until the election, until justice for Breonna, until freedom.
Dr. Juianne Malveaux is an economist and author. She can be reached at juliannemalveaux.com