Yet another shooting of an unarmed black man by police, this time in Atlanta, Georgia. 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks had a bit too much to drink on Friday evening, and while waiting in line for food at the Wendy’s drive-thru, he fell asleep in his car, blocking the drive-thru and causing customers to have to drive around the vehicle to pick up their orders. So … the police were called. I don’t know why the on-duty manager at Wendy’s couldn’t just go out and see what was wrong that Mr. Brooks’ car wasn’t moving? I don’t know why the Atlanta police department dispatched armed officers. But the result is that now Mr. Brooks, father of four young children, is dead, shot by police.
DAMMIT! There are ways of dealing with situations that do not require shooting and killing! The police story differs from what was captured on cellphone video, but it appears that Mr. Brooks did resist arrest, but when police deployed a taser, Brooks ran away and then police shot him. The man had too much to drink and was on foot, had no weapon and was no danger to any other than himself. Why the f**k did they feel a need to shoot him???
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for the immediate termination of the officer who fired his weapon, and the other officer involved was placed on administrative duty. The mayor also announced the resignation of Chief Erika Shields, saying …
“There has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be as it relates with interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect. Chief Erika Shields have been a solid member of APD for over two decades and has a deep and abiding love for the people of Atlanta. And because of her desire that Atlanta be a model of what meaningful reform should look like across this country, Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as police chief so that the city may move forward with urgency in rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our communities.”
A kind way of saying she asked for the police chief’s resignation.
Predictably and justifiably, protestors came out in droves. And then … they broke out the windows and set fire to the Wendy’s where Mr. Brooks had fallen asleep. Sigh. Now, I fully and completely support protesting the police brutality against black people … if I were younger or had the strength, I would march right along with them. But … destruction of property is a step too far. And, it’s counter-productive, for then the police are on edge and likely to be even more trigger-happy than they would otherwise be.
Protestors also completely shut down the interstate connector in Atlanta, I-75/I-85. As of this writing (Saturday @10:00 p.m.), police are confronting them and lobbing smoke bombs into the crowd. The likelihood of somebody else being shot and killed before daylight on Sunday is high, in my opinion. I hope the cops have the good sense to leave their guns holstered!
There are a few situations that call for police to use their guns. Very few. Many moons ago, when I lived in Kingsport, Tennessee, I was driving home with two of my children in the car after dark one night. About a block before reaching home, a fuse blew and my headlights went out. Since I was almost home, I drove the final block, pulled into my driveway, and saw flashing blue lights behind me. Okay, I got out of my car and was met by a police officer, holding his gun pointed right at me, telling me to put my hands on top of the car. Turns out he thought I had seen him and had intentionally cut my lights. He didn’t shoot me, did check the lights to verify what I told him … meanwhile, my children were petrified, for he kept his gun in hand the whole time. He didn’t shoot me or the children, likely because I wasn’t black, but … why the damn gun???
It is time for major changes in every police department in this nation, people! If somebody is shooting up a Wal-Mart, then I fully expect the police to go in with their weapons drawn. If there is a report of a hostage situation, or a robbery in progress, then yes, I certainly expect the police to go in with their guns drawn. But you do not shoot a woman asleep in her bed (Breonna Taylor) or a man sleeping in his car! Perhaps if every Tom, Dick, and Harry in this country didn’t own a gun, the police might feel less inclined to “shoot first, ask questions later”. Then again, in the case of a black person, perhaps they would.
I don’t pretend to know the solutions, but I know this much … if I had to name the two biggest problems in our society today, they would be racism and guns. Each in and of itself is bad, but together, they are a combination that is killing this nation … literally.