Atlanta Falcons veteran offensive guard Jamon Brown, a Louisville native who has been on the frontlines in protesting the killing of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police officers, plans to wear Taylor's name on his helmet this season to keep her memory alive and bring more awareness to racial injustice.
As reported by The Undefeated on Monday, a memo confirmed the NFL will give players the option to wear helmet decals honoring victims of systemic racism. The death of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as a medical emergency technician, has sparked a national outcry and contributed to the movement for racial equality and the end of police brutality.
"Yes, sir, I will put Breonna Taylor's name on my helmet,'' Brown told ESPN on Monday. "To me, the God I serve says we're all brothers and sisters in His eyes. Losing Breonna Taylor was like losing a sister, even though I didn't know her. ... Being able to carry her name and represent what she stood for alive, I'm for that. On top of that, she was taken from us before she could even really live her life. It's about being able to carry her name and what it is standing for right now: change.''
Brown, 27, said he went to school with some people who were close to Taylor. He has spoken with Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, several times since her death. Brown has participated in "countless'' peaceful protests in Louisville over the past couple of months and addressed crowds of thousands while calling for justice for Taylor.
Taylor was shot multiple times after police broke down the door to her apartment while executing a no-knock search warrant during a narcotics investigation back in March. Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly are the three Louisville Metro Police Department officers identified in connection to Taylor's death. None have been arrested. Detective Hankison was fired. Palmer has filed a civil lawsuit against them.
Brown, who has a 30-year-old sister, said he could not imagine the same thing happening to someone close to him such as his sister or mother.
"It made me think, 'What if this was my sister?' That's what sparked me to get off my couch [and protest],'' Brown said. "First off, we have to put out there that there's no justice, no peace. The time sensitivity of how things have been handled has been completely out of order. I know that there's an investigation that has to happen. I know there are certain procedures. But with everything that has been let out and how different information has been released, I think it's just a matter of people in those positions that are supposed to hold people accountable. ... It's about doing that.''
Brown applauded the efforts of athletes from the NBA and WNBA for bringing more awareness to Taylor. The Lakers' LeBron James opened his comments to the media last Thursday by demanding justice for Taylor, while WNBA players had "Breonna Taylor" stretched across the back of their jerseys.
"They are doing their part in bringing awareness,'' Brown said. "Seeing people like LeBron, who carries a big platform and has influence ... he's trying to bring light to a situation that is absolutely wrong. And nobody is doing anything about it. We're still sitting behind the ... rules and investigations. The s--- is just wrong, period.''
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills was arrested July 15 in Louisville and faced a felony charge after protesting at the home of Kentucky's attorney general, but the chargers against Stills and other protesters were dropped.
"They were trying to make an example of him to scare other people,'' Brown said of Stills. "They knew that if he got arrested, everyone would know because why? Because he's an NFL player.''
Brown has become a respected leader in the city of Louisville and established the Jamon Brown Foundation to help impact the lives of those struggling with poverty, violence and youth homelessness. Although he is back in Atlanta now for the start of training camp, Brown said he wouldn't hesitate to return home at some point to protest if justice is not served.