Tamika Mallory addressed criticism after supporters of Breonna Taylor questioned if activists and influencers were using the deceased victim’s name to clout-chase after the media rollout for a BreonnaCon event organized by her foundation, Until Freedom.
The multi-day “community convention” located in Louisville, Ky. featured a variety of activities and workshops intended to “direct resources, talent and energy towards achieving justice for Breonna Taylor,” according to an emailed press release screenshotted and shared via Twitter. Among the events was a “Bree-B-Q” described as a “community barbeque and concert honoring all the lives lost to police violence.”
There were also gender-specific empowerment events that centered their conversations around a bevy of interesting topics: the men’s event promised to “transform, inspire, and activate” by exploring mental health and wellness, while reality TV stars Porsha Williams of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and Yandy Smith-Harris of “Love and Hip-Hop: New York” hosted a “Taylor-Made” event about “beauty, money and justice.”
“The very blatant capitalizing on black death w/this breonnacon nonsense is really gross,” a user blasted on Twitter. “Why would anyone turn this woman’s brutal assassination by police into an all-day empowerment seminar? wtf is wrong w/ppl?! honor her by supporting her family & calling for the end of police.”
In an interview with The Root, Mallory, co-founder of Until Freedom, responded to the growing criticism floating around social media in order to clarify how the event was organized behind the scenes. Firstly, Until Freedom didn’t profit from the event, they only “deposited to the community.”
Users also took notice of the design on the flyers and how it boldly advertised reality television celebrities while Breonna’s headshot faded into the background. Mallory claims that’s just an advertising tactic to lure more people to the movement.
“The history of organizing has been using creative tactics to bring people into movements. Many of the women who came out to the women’s empowerment event yesterday were individuals who said they had never been to any of the protests. The influencers were used as a hook to get them in, but when they got there they learned about Breonna’s Law. They learned about what it means when we say to defund the police.”
There’s also the matter of the registration created on Google Forms requiring attendees interested in joining the “direct action” if they were willing to be arrested at the event. It also asked for emergency contact information, birth date, and a passport or driver’s license number. Mallory claims its just a preferred vetting tool aimed to keep their attendees safe from trolls and aggressors.
And as for the creativity behind the “BreonnaCon” and the other aptly named activities, Breonna’s family had hands-on involvement with it.
“There were no internal issues within Until Freedom about using the name,” said Mallory. “Especially not when Tamika Palmer (Breonna’s mother) and her family members and her family attorneys were here working with us when the concepts were developed,” she said.
“When one of the younger organizers suggested ‘Bre-B-Q,’ her mom, with tears in her eyes looked at me and said Breonna would love Bre-B-Q, that would be really special,” Mallory continued.