Protesters have taken to the streets and shut down a major interstate in Atlanta, in response to yet another police killing. Around 10:30 on Friday night, The Atlanta Police Department responded to a Wendy’s location in the city, because 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was sleeping in his car in the drive-thru, forcing other customers to drive around him.
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) June 14, 2020
When police encountered Brooks they gave him a sobriety test, and when he failed, he attempted to flee. Police chased after Brooks and a struggle ensued, and an officer shot and killed him. Video footage appears to show Brooks take the officer’s taser during the scuffle, but whether or not lethal force was justified is under scrutiny.
— Audrey Washington (@AudreyWSBTV) June 14, 2020
With tension already high from the ongoing protests against police brutality, the city was quick to gather and protest this new killing. Hundreds of people gathered outside of the Wendy’s until a few individuals decided to break the windows of the restaurant and set it on fire. That is the only major act of property damage that has been reported in the city at this time.
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) June 14, 2020
By 10:00 pm on Saturday, demonstrators shut down all lanes of a major highway.
In the midst of the protests Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields released a statement announcing her resignation from the department. Meanwhile, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has called for the immediate termination of the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks.
Bottoms went on to say that she does not believe that the use of force was justified. In a statement to the press, the mayor said, “While there may be debate as to whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do. I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force.”
L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer who was hired by the Brooks family, said repeatedly at a news conference Saturday night that a Taser was not considered a deadly weapon, and that there was no justification for the police to shoot Mr. Brooks just because he had one in his hands.
“His life was not in immediate harm when he fired that shot,” Stewart said.
Protesters shut down interstate in Atlanta
Posted by The National Desk – TND on Saturday, June 13, 2020
Stewart also said that the officers put on plastic gloves and picked up shell casings at the scene before performing first aid on Brooks, and did not check his pulse for more than two minutes after he was shot.
This shooting comes at a time of intense anger at police across the entire country, for the day to day interactions that people have with police. In many cities, activists are demanding a full defunding of the police department or at least extreme budget cuts. People see the police as an occupying force that is not there for their safety, but rather, their oppression. This is why hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, have taken to the streets all over the world in recent weeks.
We will be reporting details on the developing situation in Atlanta as they become available.