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Vital Stories

Breonna Taylor’s Tragic Death is Another Example of the Violence Resulting from U.S. Drug Policies

By Vital Strategies Overdose Prevention Program 

We stand in solidarity with those who are demanding justice and accountability in the horrific killing of Breonna Taylor, the tragic outcome of failed drug policies rooted in systemic racism.

Just after midnight on March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, was shot and killed by police during the execution of a “no knock” drug warrant. 

Breonna Taylor’s death is yet another example of the violence that American drug policies were designed to produce against Black Americans and other marginalized communities. The misinformed drug trafficking investigation that brought the police invasion and shooting into Breonna Taylor’s home is another indictment of the decades-long failure of the U.S. response to drug use — a response whose foundation is moralism, criminalization, and punishment.  It is anapproach that only worsens the public health crisis of overdose that now claims more than 70,000 lives a year, needlessly incarcerating millions of people, and destroying communities and livelihoods.

This country’s response to drug use, steeped in racism that becomes more apparent with each death, must move away from punishment and moralism and towards an equitable and just, health-based, and supportive response. We commit to this work every day.