Over the course of the last two weeks, there has been an eruption of news and grief within the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. Between the protests in Lancaster following the murder of Ricardo Muñoz by police, to the verdict of Breonna Taylor’s killers, there has been an anger that has swept the nation. As we have seen for decades and, more specifically, since the death of George Floyd, that anger often comes with people acting on their first amendment right to protest. 

Someone who is not, and has never been, a stranger to this sort of action is West Chester University junior Taylor Enterline. 

At this point, many are familiar with Enterline’s arrest, made on Sunday, Sept. 14, at a Black Lives Matter protest in Lancaster where she was peacefully serving as a medic before being arrested as the situation escalated. Following her arrest, she was given a bail of $1 million, which, after public outcry, was reduced to $50,000.

People know that she was doing this work on the night of Sept. 14, but what they might not know is that Enterline has been doing this work for years.

One of the first places Enterline took her passion for activism and social justice work was Lancaster Stands Up, an independent community group founded in 2016 with the intention of giving voice to the people who felt unheard in the Lancaster area. 

While still in high school, she applied for an internship program which Lancaster Stands Up coordinated to help young people learn about grassroots and political organization. Of the people who applied, only 10 were selected, among them being Enterline. 

“She just impressed us from the very beginning,” said Lancaster Stands Up Co-Organizer, Eliza Booth. “Just her tenacity, her passion for racial equality, the things that she wanted to do … she wanted to learn. She wanted to be involved in every aspect. Anything we were doing she was always like, ‘I’ll do it! I’ll help!’”

During her time with the group, she was able to jump right into the world of activism by helping organize events, such as the rally on the Lancaster Courthouse steps for Shawn Williams, a young Black man who was tased by local police after already being cuffed. 

Though her internship eventually ended, her work was only beginning. While staying in touch and remaining a member with Lancaster Stands Up, Enterline went off to college and expanded her work to West Chester University, where she currently serves as a peer educator for the Center for Women’s and Gender Equity. 

However, while back home in the Lancaster area over the summer, the protests on behalf of George Floyd took off and, in June, it seemed that everyone knew exactly where Enterline would be. Right from the start, there was racial tension between protestors and police officers, as Enterline’s fellow activist, West Chester University alumni Nick Silveri-Hiller, remembers.

“At the end of the first day [of protesting when George Floyd was killed] there was an incident where a 10-year-old and his mother were pepper sprayed by police … Then the following day, as people were gathering again in front of the police station, unprovoked, the police started pepper spraying people who were just blocking an intersection.”

This was only the beginning of what was to become months of protesting in Lancaster and all around the country. Silveri-Hiller described Enterline as a “dedicated and passionate activist for justice,” which is evident in her work with Lancaster Stands Up.

“We at Lancaster Stands Up knew we had a platform but we also realized that there were young Black and Brown organizers … who were already on the ground and leading this fight,” explained Booth. “And so we had called a meeting to meet with some of the organizers to find out how to organize and see what Lancaster Stands Up could do. And Taylor came to that meeting.”

From there, Enterline was able to use her position across each of the organizations she takes part in to organize and mobilize her community in the fight for Black lives, something she had continued to do up until two weeks ago. Now facing an Oct. 5 court date, Enterline’s situation can be seen as an example of the systematic racism she fought to dismantle.

The announcement of her million-dollar bail left her family and friends in shock. Many activists were quick to read the underlying message, which led to public outcry and lowering of the bail.

“I think the police are targeting all those who intend to speak out against police violence,” said Silveri-Hiller. “I think that a one million dollar bail is a political action to target those who want to speak out against police violence. That is intended to put a chill into all activists in the community … They want us to be afraid.”

But instead of being fearful, those who know her recognize Taylor Enterline as a force of justice, an example of integrity and a model for generations of students to come. Her family, friends, fellow activists and organizers, as well as her classmates at West Chester University,  are all called to fight for her and against the system that exists in this country.

 

Caroline Helms is a second-year English major with minors in Political Science and Journalism. CH923631@wcupa.edu

Ali Kochik is a third-year English Writing major with minors in Journalism and Women’s and Gender Studies. AK908461@WCUPA.EDU 

 

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