by Gloria Tatum
Rayshard Brooks, 27, the father of three daughters and a stepson who will never see their father again, died Friday night. He was shot in the back by an Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, and it sparked over twenty different protests all across the Atlanta area for two days.
After Brooks was killed, Atlanta exploded with raw, righteous rage, the expressway was shut down; Wendy’s restaurant was burnt down; the Chief of Police, Erika Shields, resigned; officer Rolfe who killed Brooks was fired; the other officer put on administrative duty; and dozens of protesters were arrested.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Brooks fell asleep in his car while in a drive-thru lane at a Wendy’s restaurant in south Atlanta. Cars were driving around him and someone called the police.
The police woke him, told him to move his car which he did. He cooperated with a police pat down for a weapon search and took a breath test. The police decided he was too drunk to drive and planned to arrest him. Brooks offered to walk to his sister’s house and leave his car at the restaurant.
The police determined to arrest Brooks started to handcuff him. At that point, he tried to get away and a struggle broke out and he was tasered. He got the taser away from the police and ran. The officers chased after him and Rolfe shot him in the back twice and he died in the street.
“Don’t pull your gun so quickly. He [Rolfe] had other options than shooting a man in the back as he was running away. Support came in two minutes and you could have boxed him in,” Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks’ family, said in a press conference regarding officer Rolfe actions.
“Legally in Georgia a taser is not a deadly weapon,” Stewart said.
The police had his car and could have picked him up later instead of chasing and killing him. Brooks did not have a gun and was not a deadly threat to the officers and there was no reason to kill him.
“If these officers were a little more empathic or less scared, we would not have a dead client. There are a lot of systemic things wrong with the police in this country,” Justin Miller, an attorney for the Brooks’ family, said in a press conference.
THE MURDER OF BLACK MEN NEVER STOPS
This scene has played out across American in different ways millions of times, where an unarmed Black man has committed a minor offense and police decide to become the judge, jury and executor on the spot. This is why Black men run, they are afraid of the police for they know that if they run or cooperate they can still be killed. It is an epidemic and has been for a very long time.
“These police officers are taught to crack heads and if they can’t crack heads they are taught to shoot and that is resulting in death and we can’t have that any more… but this probably won’t be the last tragedy,” Attorney Miller said.
Brooks murder happened in Atlanta during a nationwide movement for change and justice for police accountability and reform. Millions of black and white people were already protesting all over the country, against the police murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and literally thousands of other African Americans who are killed every year by police. This has been going on for years, decades, even centuries.
“This has been going on for years, it’s like modern day salvery shit still going on. People are risking their lives because they are sick and dying from all kinds of stuff – regardless of Covid. We are saying Black Lives Matter because we always been targeted by the police. Who are they to just go out here and be killing people just because they have a badge? They can target anybody, me, my brother or somebody I know. White people got to educate their own kind to let them know that enough is enough, stop doing this,” Mahogany Wizdom, tells the Streets of Atlanta why she is protesting.
People are angry for good reason, they are sick and tired of the police killing them. They are sick and tired of systemic racism that infects every system in this county and is killing African Americans and destroying the country.
“People are sick of watching black men murdered. It happened because the value of African American men’s lives does not mean too much to officers nowadays. The problem is they have been given leeway to use legal force all too often,” Attorney Stewart said.
White supremacist who commit mass murders are often taken in without killing or even harming them. “Why are they not being shot when Rayshard was shot running,” Stewart noticed and added “Compare [Rayshard] to all the white individuals who had a deadly weapon and were not killed.”
“I don’t even know what justice is anymore. I know this is not justice what is happening in society now. People are refusing change and not understanding why the time is now for complete systemic change…..and if you don’t understand that you may be the problem,” Stewart said.
“Continue to put pressure on the police, the mayor, the governor and everyone to let them know the public will no longer stand for it. People are beginning to realize that America is not America for all Americans and that’s a problem, Miller said.