Of Protest and Property: An Essay in Pursuit of Justice for Breonna Taylor

Lovelace, H. Timothy, Jr. | May 13, 2021

In March 2020, Louisville police officers fatally shot Breonna Taylor in her apartment while executing a no-knock warrant. There was great outrage over the killing of the innocent woman, and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron led an investigation of the officer-involved shooting.

Activists protested in Louisville after Taylor’s killing, and when Cameron’s investigation appeared stalled, these activists even conducted a sit-in on Cameron’s front lawn. They demanded immediate justice for Taylor. Cameron sharply responded, lecturing the activists on how to achieve justice. He contended that neither trespassing on private property nor escalation in tactics could advance the cause of justice.

Cameron’s bold assertion invites a discussion of how civil rights activists have and continue to use trespassing and escalation to pursue justice. This Essay explores the relationship between civil rights and property rights and finds parallels between the sit-in movement of the 1960s and the Black Lives Matter Movement. This Essay also finds parallels between Cameron’s criticisms of the Black Lives Matter Movement and criticisms of the sit-in movement of the 1960s. The Essay concludes by suggesting paths forward in the struggle to find justice for Taylor.


Professor of Law and John Hope Franklin Scholar, Duke University School of Law.

Copyright 2021 by H. Timothy Lovelace Jr.

Cite as: H. Timothy Lovelace Jr., Of Protest and Property: An Essay in Pursuit of Justice for Breonna Taylor, Nw. U. L. Rev. Colloquy (2021).