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Experts Hail Swift Moves in Wake of Atlanta Police Shooting

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Black Lives Matter Protest in Atlanta | Experts Hail Swift Moves in Wake of Atlanta Police Shooting | Featured

Atlanta police on Sunday quickly released body-camera and other footage that captured the shooting death of a black man by a white officer who was swiftly fired — moves that policing experts said could help defuse anti-racism protests that were reignited by the shooting.

Atlanta police announced that an officer, Garrett Rolfe, had been fired after he fatally shot Rayshard Brooks, 27, on Friday night, and another officer, Devin Brosnan, had been placed on administrative duty. On Saturday, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had called for the immediate firing of the officer who opened fire on Brooks and announced that she had accepted the resignation of Police Chief Erika Shields.

“I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force,” Bottoms said.

Roughly 150 protesters marched Saturday night around the Wendy’s restaurant outside where Brooks was shot, reigniting demonstrations that had largely simmered in the Georgia capital nearly three weeks after George Floyd, another black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee to his neck. Both Rolfe and Brosnan are white.

The firing of Rolfe and the quick release of the video to the public could go a long way toward easing tensions in the city, said Andy Harvey, a veteran law enforcement officer who is now a police chief in Ennis, Texas, and the author of books and training curriculum on community policing.

“Transparency today is a whole different ball game. It’s what the community expects,” Harvey said. “We have to always be open about the good, the bad and the ugly. Not just the good. I think it actually builds trust and confidence when we’re open about the ugly as well.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said that Brooks, who was seen on body camera video sleeping in a car blocking the Wendy’s drive thru, failed a sobriety test and was shot in a struggle over a police Taser.

Cedric Alexander, the former public safety director of Dekalb County, Georgia, who now works as a police consultant, said the shooting will undoubtedly lead to questions about how officers might have defused the situation.

“Here’s a man who took it upon himself to pull off the road to take a nap,” Alexander said. “Could they have given him a ride home, could they have called him an Uber, and let him sleep it off later, as opposed to arresting him? Now that does not in any kind of way excuse Mr. Brooks for resisting arrest. But the question is: Are there other protocols that police could have taken?”

“And people will ask the question, had he been white and pulled onto the side of the road to take a nap and sleep it off, would they have given him a ride home?”

The Wendy’s was set aflame at one point Saturday night, although the fire was out before midnight.

Atlanta police said Sunday that 36 people had been arrested in connection with the protests, but gave no further details. A makeshift memorial had been erected outside the restaurant Sunday morning.

In Washington, D.C., meanwhile, a group of interfaith leaders held a prayer vigil Sunday outside St. John’s Church near the White House, where President Donald Trump held a June 1 appearance that sparked criticism after protesters were forcibly cleared from the area.

The faith leaders, representing multiple Christian denominations as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths, addressed a crowd of several dozen at the edge of the recently named Black Lives Matter Plaza with a message of racial justice.

The rapidly unfolding movement to take down Confederate statues and other polarizing monuments in the U.S. also grew over the weekend.

Protesters in New Orleans tore down a bust of a slave owner Saturday who left part of his fortune to New Orleans’ schools and then took the remains to the Mississippi River and rolled it down the banks into the water.

And in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation’s principal chief watched as two Confederate monuments were removed that were placed in its tribal headquarters nearly a century ago by the Daughters of the Confederacy.

In Philadelphia, a group of about 100 people, some carrying guns and baseball bats, gathered around a statue of Christopher Columbus in Philadelphia on Saturday, saying they intended to protect it from vandals amid recent protests.

“It would be over my dead body before they got to this statue,” Anthony Ruggiero, 41, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “This is a part of history.”

Mayor Jim Kenney condemned the “groups of armed individuals ‘protecting’” the statue in a Twitter post on Sunday.

Meanwhile, three people were charged in the vandalism of a Christopher Columbus statue in Providence, Rhode Island.

European protesters also sought to show solidarity with their American counterparts and to confront bias in their own countries on Sunday. The demonstrations also posed a challenge to policies intended to limit crowds to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In Milan, Italy, protesters scrawled ‘’rapist’’ and ‘’racist’’ in Italian on the statue of a late Italian journalist who had acknowledged having had a 12-year-old Eritrean bride while stationed in the Italian colony on the horn of Africa in the 1930s. The statue of Indro Montanelli, inside a Milan park that bears his name, has been a flashpoint in Italy’s Black Lives Matter protests.

In Germany, protesters in Berlin on Sunday formed 5 1/2-mile (9-kilometre) chain in a message against racism, among a range of other causes. Demonstrators were linked by colored ribbons, forming what organizers called a “ribbon of solidarity” that stretched southeast from the Brandenburg Gate to the Neukoelln neighbourhood.

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This story corrects the summary to reflect that announcement of officer’s firing was Sunday, not Friday. The story also corrects the last name of the fired officer to Rolfe.

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Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia, and Murphy reported from Oklahoma City. Associated Press writers Christopher Weber in Los Angeles, Elana Schor in Washington, Geir Moulson in Berlin, Colleen Barry in Milan and Rebecca Santana in New Orleans contributed to this report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  • Avatar Spike says:

    Did not know at the time that the guy was Black or white or other. I read elsewhere that “racists” would contend that since he was running away deadly force was called for. I am not a racist in any sense, the police are responsible for more than just the perp. He had used violent force to resist arrest, they had spent 1/2 hour?? trying to talk him into cooperating, he managed to get the stun gun away from the cop and got away and ran. What was he going to do with that stun gun? Shoot at the cops for one thing, but also maybe some innocent bystander who got in his way – he was not rational and two cops could not subdue him! I feel there was provocation to stop him before he hurt someone, caused a wreck, etc. Interestingly, the cops would have then been held responsible for not stopping him before an innocent suffered the consequences. No wonder cops are leaving the force – no-one has their backs. They are men and women who have made good choices and done their best. They use their training – if they get “too” rough in taking a guy down, they are held at fault, if they don’t and the guy gets away and really hurts someone else they are held at fault. Their superiors do not have their back and the public who really needs their protection do no step up to the plate – White, Black or other!

  • Avatar Kramo says:

    Thank God they only burned down a restaurant. “Experts” my ass.

  • Avatar Bob says:

    You don’t “pull over to take a nap” in the drive thru line you dumbass . you pass out because you’re driving while intoxicated and decide you’re hungry.

  • Avatar Dave says:

    Had he been white, he would not have resisted !

  • Avatar Marci says:

    Media forgot to mention that the guy “pulled over” blocking drive- thru lane at Wendy’s… and that he hit the policeman in the face, grabbed the officer’s taser took off running and then turned and aimed the taser at officer/s. NOW, if the officer/s had been disabled by the taser, then their guns could have gotten in the hands of the drunk man, Brooks. Officers have a split second to make decisions.
    Had the guy simply did what he was told, he’d still be alive. And, really, do officers have the responsibility of driving drunk drivers to their homes!! That’s ridiculous.
    This is a sad situation, but doggone it, people must learn that policemen have authority. There are some bad officers, and some bad people! We know that!
    The real answer here is Jesus Christ! He never hates people! He loves, He forgives, and He will never leave or forsake those who have accepted Him as Savior and Lord. Hatred is of satan, and satan’s goal is to divide and spread hatred and confusion and ultimately kill those who follow him.
    I pray for the Brooks’ family and for the officer’s involved—AND for our Nation! Sad, sad, sad!

  • Avatar Kay says:

    Good observations and valid points Spike, Bob and Marci.

  • Avatar Voldemort says:

    Let lay it all out. Floyd was a serial offender committing a federal felony. He was high on drugs and trashed the inside of a police car which is why he was on the road. I do not agree that the officers were within bounds but I would like to see the bruises on the officer. Tell me how well you are thinking when you are on an adrenaline high. The man in Georgia was passed out drunk and startled awake. The whole incident was on camera. He went crazy and wrestled with the officer removing his firearm(that is the legal deffinition of that taser and is important) and then ran. The turned to fire at the officer with the firearm. That requires response which would be tazer but because that was gone pistol was used. That is by law justified use of lethal force. This is on the escapee not the cop who was railroaded for following protocol.

  • Avatar Bill Yeates sr says:

    Can any of those left leaning liberals give me a name of just one of the 55 police officers killed in the line of duty since Jan 1 2020? I believe blue lives matter!

  • Avatar 2WarAbnVet says:

    “Experts Hail Swift Moves in Wake of Atlanta Police Shooting”, because acting in haste is always preferable to waiting to examine the facts.

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