How We Turn Pain into Peace
On Friday, June 12, two white police officers murdered 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks. The police reportedly responded to a call from a Wendy’s employee about Rayshard sleeping in his car. When Atlanta Police Department officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan arrived, instead of allowing Brooks to lock his car and walk home to his sister’s house nearby as he requested, they killed him while attempting arrest. This came on the heels of weeks of protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but Brooks’ murder sparked distinctive vigor in the uprisings. He was one of us – a girl dad, a brother, a real jokester who found joy in dancing and loving on his kin. His legacy joins that of the host of Black mothers, transgender and queer folk, sons, organizers, and elders who have died or experienced violence at the hands of APD.
The Black community of Atlanta that bears the burden of structural racism and economic injustice for others to call it the Black mecca have had enough. Building from their grief and righteous rage, local residents established a memorial and occupation site at the now incinerated Wendy’s called the Rayshard Brooks Peace Center. It is a testament to the resilience and power of Black Atlanta, and an entreaty to elected leaders to answer for Black death in the name of Rayshard and all who have suffered under state violence and terror in this city. Organizers for the Peace Center are calling for Wendy’s to relinquish the deed to the land where Rayshard was murdered. They demand the passing of the Rayshard Brooks bill and succeeding municipal divestment from policing in favor of social well-being programs. Our lives are on the line. We will no longer accept this violence. We demand justice and peace. This is how we turn our pain into peace as we build a memorial and peace center in honor of Rayshard Brooks and advocate for change.
Please join us in our fight and stand in solidarity with us and advocate for our policy platform with the City of Atlanta:
- A new organization of unarmed first responders should be created; tasked with responding to issues involving homelessness, mental health, and nuisance complaints. Armed police officers are not the ideal first responders in these situations
- All APD officers involved in unjustified use-of-force should be terminated and decertified to prevent continued employment and require entire file of police officers be released as part of the investigation after a police-involved shooting
- Require release of body cam footage within a proscribed period and if there are ever circumstances wherein an APD officers body camera “malfunctions” or in not turned on city of Atlanta courts should assume “obstruction of justice” or proscribe penalty for officer
- Impose intervention requirement for officers in presence of officer interacting with a suspect in a manner that violates protocols
- Eliminate qualified immunity for police officers sued by the families of decedents and officer’s pensions should be forfeited if they are found guilty of misconduct
We believe that if we can achieve these goals we can make sure there will be no more tragic deaths like Rayshard Brooks. This is our hope and our prayer for a better future for all.