After a Kentucky grand jury on Wednesday declined to file charges againsts the police officer who earlier this year shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her home, protests erupted across the country that evening. In Charlottesville, more than 100 activists took to the streets hours after the decision was announced, marching in solidarity with Taylor’s hometown of Louisville across a bridge built during the heart of the Civil Rights Movement. From the Belmont Bridge, the protest headed down Market Street to the front of the Charlottesville Police Department. Ang Conn, a local activist and organizer of the march, explained that “We’re here tonight in protest of the murder of Breonna Taylor.” She went on to say that “[We are] calling for the defunding of the police that will result in overall abolishing the police institution as we know it.” Defunding the police has been an idea shared by many activists over the summer including community organizer Don Gathers. Over chants of “abolish the police,” Gathers stated “We don’t need to try to reform. We don’t need to try to fix. We don’t need to put Band-Aids on the system. We need to obliterate the entire system and start all over.” He went on to say “It’s not that the system isn’t working, it’s not that the system is broken, the system is doing exactly as it’s designed to do and that is to exclude Black and brown people from justice.” Gathers said that the way to make change is to “continue to stand up, continue to show up, continue to take to the streets.” “It’s blatantly obvious that Black lives still don’t matter in this country. After 400 years of being here, nothing’s changed. Nothing’s changed.”  

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Mike Kropf is a photographer with work printed in various publications in central Virginia. Previously, he was the staff photographer for Longwood University and a photographer for the Washington Football Team.