Jun 15, 2020 (GIN) – Some of the largest anti-racism protests in Europe have taken place in Belgium, the birthplace of King Léopold II, whose brutal rule of Congo from 1885 to 1908 caused an estimated 10 million Congolese deaths through murder, starvation and disease.
This past week, close to 12,000 people gathered in central Brussels. They were targeting the King Leopold statue outside the royal palace and more than a dozen others. The most egregious one depicts a group of Congolese people kneeling below Leopold in “gratitude”.
Many of these statues were built in the 1930s when the Belgian government created a mythology around Leopold II, erasing the public memory of the Congo atrocities and replacing it with a narrative of a benevolent king who brought glory to Belgium.
But as calls for the statue’s removal grow louder, Belgian’s political class is raising objections to the dismay of Afro-Belgians and other citizens.
“You should see what Leopold II has done for Belgium!” Prince Laurent, younger brother of the current Belgian King Philippe, was quoted to say. “He had parks built in Brussels and many other things.”
“I don’t see how he could have made people (in the Congo) suffer,” Laurent said. “There were many people that worked for Leopold II, and they were really abusive — but that does not mean that Leopold II was abusive.”
“You won’t erase the history by removing statues,” said District Mayor Koen Palinckx of Antwerp. “You won’t turn back the clock.” He scolded activists destroying objects that are public property saying: “That’s a line you do not cross.”
“This is not how we proceed in a democracy,” added Auderghem Mayor Didier Gosuin. “This is not how we put history back on the right track.”
In 2010, former Belgian foreign minister Louis Michel, the father of future prime minister and present EU Council president Charles Michel, called Leopold “a hero with ambitions for a small country like Belgium” and described the Congo stories as “exaggerations”.
Belgians have been unwilling to confront colonialism, said Idesbald Goddeeris, a professor of history at Leuven Catholic University. When he was a student in the 1990s, instructors spent only one or two minutes on the country’s role in Congo, he recalled.
“Slavery is still very real history for black people – we are still living with the consequences of it, with a racial hierarchy that puts black people at the bottom,” said Mary Ononokpono, who is doing a PhD at the University of Cambridge on the British-Biafran slave trade.
“Britain, Europe and America – and Africa – have to confront their history,” said Ononokpono. “We urgently need to have a long-overdue and honest discussion about the history of slavery and its legacy of impoverishment.”
By Biba Adams, The Grio
After 130 years, Quaker is finally changing the name of their popular pancake brand, Aunt Jemima. Acknowledging that the brand was based on a racial stereotype, the name of the product will change and the imagery removed.
Introduced on Nov. 1, 1889, the inspiration for the product was a minstrel song, “Old Aunt Jemima,” NBC News reports, based on the mammy archetype. With her large, smiling face and headkerchief, the character was centered in the ideal of Black women as domestic caretakers for whites.
The original logo was based on a woman named Nancy Green who was a “storyteller and missionary worker.” Green was born enslaved.
In 1989, the image was updated to show Aunt Jemima in pearl earrings and a newly-coiffed hairstyle. However, the name and her mammy-oriented personality remained.
Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods said that the company acknowledges that attempts to update the brand have proven insufficient.
PepsiCo, which owns the Quaker brand, released a statement stating that they are retiring the brand image. “As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations,” the company said.
Riché Richardson, an associate professor at Cornell University, told the TODAY show on Wednesday. “It’s an image that harkens back to the antebellum plantation … Aunt Jemima is that kind of stereotype premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness,” Richardson said.
“It is urgent to expunge our public spaces of a lot of these symbols that for some people are triggering and represent terror and abuse.”
Quaker Foods has not yet released the new name for the product but stated that the new packaging will appear in stores later this year. They also committed to spending $5 million over the next five years “to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.”
By: Jenna Fryer, Associated Press
Federal authorities on Monday confirmed they are investigating the discovery of a noose found in the Talladega Superspeedway garage stall of Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver who successfully pushed the stock car series to ban the Confederate flag at its venues earlier this month.
U.S. Attorney Jay Town said his office, the FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division were reviewing the situation. “Regardless of whether federal charges can be brought, this type of action has no place in our society,” Town said.
The stock car series, founded in the South more than 70 years ago, has tried to distance itself from the flag for years at the risk of alienating a core group of its fan base. At Wallace’s urging, it went ahead with the ban as the nation grapples with social unrest largely tied to George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police.
NASCAR has not outlined how it will enforce the restriction and this week’s race at Talladega, in the heart of the South, presented the series with its biggest test in the early going. Disgruntled fans with Confederate flags drove past the main entrance to the Alabama race track prior to Sunday’s race, while a plane flew above the track pulling a banner of the flag that read “Defund NASCAR.”
Hours after the race was postponed by rain, NASCAR said the noose had been found. The sanctioning body vowed to do everything possible to find who was responsible and “eliminate them from the sport.”
“We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act,” the series said in a statement. “As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she was “shocked and appalled” by the “vile act” against Wallace, an Alabama native.
“There is no place for this disgusting display of hatred in our state,” Ivey said. “Bubba Wallace is one of us; he is a native of Mobile and on behalf of all Alabamians, I apologize to Bubba Wallace as well as to his family and friends for the hurt this has caused and regret the mark this leaves on our state.”
Richard Petty, seven-time NASCAR champion and owner of Wallace’s famed No. 43, was headed to Talladega to support his driver. Petty, who turns 83 next month, has not attended a race during the coronavirus pandemic and said in a statement he was “enraged by the act of someone placing a noose in the garage stall of my race team.”
“There’s absolutely no place in our sport or society for racism,” wrote the Hall of Famer known simply as “The King.” “This filthy act serves as a reminder of how far we still have to go to eradicate racial prejudice and it galvanizes my resolve to use the resources of Richard Petty Motorsports to create change. This sick person who perpetrated this act must be found, exposed and swiftly and immediately expelled from NASCAR.
“I believe in my heart this despicable act is not representative of the competitors I see each day in the NASCAR garage area. I stand shoulder to shoulder with Bubba, yesterday, today, tomorrow and every day forward.”
Reaction from Wallace’s fellow drivers was immediate as they prepared for the rescheduled race Monday afternoon. Retired four-time champion Jeff Gordon called it a “cowardly” act and Ryan Blaney, one of Wallace’s closest friends, tweeted: “You’re my brother and always will be. Don’t let the people who are lower than life to try and bring you down.”
In an act of solidarity, all the NASCAR drivers escorted Wallace’s No. 43 car on to the track at Talladega on Monday for the race that was postponed by rain on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Wallace has not commented since a statement on social media late Sunday in which he said the “the despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism.”
“As my mother told me today, ‘They are just trying to scare you,’” he wrote. “ This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.”
Wallace has worn a shirt that says “I Can’t Breathe” over his firesuit and sported a Black Lives Matter paint scheme in a race last month in Martinsville, Virginia. Wallace has said NASCAR assigned him two sheriff’s deputies for security at Martinsville after he called for the ban.
Wallace said he has found support among fellow drivers for his stance on the flag. He noted that in his tweet after the noose announcement.
“Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry including other drivers and team members in the garage,” he said. “Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone. Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate.”
Five years ago, former NASCAR chairman Brian France tried to ban flying the flags at tracks, a proposal that was not enforced and largely ignored.
This year was different and it was Wallace who led the charge. Wallace, whose father is white, was not always outspoken about racism; even after Floyd was killed last month, he was not the first driver to speak out for racial equality. He has said he began to find his public voice on racism after watching video in May of Ahmaud Arbery’s fatal shooting in Georgia. He said he now recognizes he must not let his platform as a prominent driver go to waste.
Talladega is one of the more raucous stops on the NASCAR schedule, but the pandemic prompted the series, like all sports, to ban or sharply limit fans for months. With only 5,000 fans allowed in, the scene this week was a dramatic departure from the Talladega norm with plenty of room for social distancing and fans asked to wear masks.
Fans were not granted access to the infield or the restricted area of the Cup Series garage. Under strict new health guidelines, a very limited number of people can access the garage where the cars are kept. That would include crew members for each of the 40 teams, NASCAR employees, Talladega staff members and any contracted safety crews or security guards.
Drivers are not even permitted to enter the garage, instead of going directly from their motorhomes to the race cars to drive. They were never called to the cars Sunday because of rain.
Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from NorthStarNewsToday.com
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Several leading medical organizations have said racism is a public health issue and that police brutality must stop.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians made their comments in the wake of the May 25 murder of Floyd George, who was murdered while in the custody of the Minneapolis, Minnesota, police.
The American Academy of Pediatrics posted on its Twitter feed Sunday night linking the impact of racism on child and adolescent health.
“AAP condemns violence, especially when perpetrated by authorities, and calls for a deep examination of how to improve the role of policing,” the academy tweeted. Systemic violence requires a systemic response.”
The American Medical Association also released a joint statement from Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld, its board chair, and Dr. Patrice Harris, the organization’s president.
“AMA policy recognizes that physical or verbal violence between law enforcement officers and the public, particularly among black and brown communities where these incidents are more prevalent and pervasive, is a critical determinant of health and supports research into public health consequences of these violent interactions,” Harris and Ehrenfeld said in a joint statement.
The two added: “Racism as a driver of health equity is particularly evident in findings from a 2018 study showing that law enforcement-involved deaths of unarmed black individuals were associated with adverse mental health among black American adults—a spillover effect on the population, regardless of whether the individual affected had a personal relationship with the victim or the incidents was experience vicariously.”
The American College of Physicians wrote that it is gravely concerned about discrimination and violence against communities of color, whether by the police or private individuals.”
Several studies suggest that racism or discrimination raise the risk of emotional and physical health problems, including depression, cardiovascular disease, hypertension —more than 40 percent of black adults have high blood pressure—and even death.
Floyd suffered from coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
The House Judiciary Committee has introduced the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, the first-ever bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, end racial profiling, change the law enforcement culture, empower communities, and build trust between law enforcement and minority communities by addressing systemic racism and bias.
In a conference call with the Black Press of America just before voting on the measure, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said the bill should help save lives.
“This is a real historic day here in the capital as last week we introduced the Justice in Policing Act, and today we amend the bill,” CBC Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said during the conference call.
“We call it the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and I call it historic because this is the first time in many years that Congress has taken up a bill dealing with policing and I’m sure it is the first time that Congress has introduced such a bold transformative piece of legislation,” Bass stated.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would establish a national standard for the operation of police departments and mandate data collection on police encounters.
If it becomes law, the bill would reprogram existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programs and streamline federal law to prosecute excessive force and establish independent prosecutors for police investigations. It would also eliminate no-knock warrants and ban chokeholds.
“The idea that a chokehold is legal in one city and not the other, the idea that no-knock warrants are okay in one jurisdiction and not in another is very important. That must end,” Bass proclaimed.
A bill crafted by Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and an executive order issued by President Donald Trump, ask only for studies to be done on matters like no-knock warrants and chokehold bans, and have little bite, Bass and her CBC colleagues noted.
“In essence, their bills take the teeth out of this bill. This is not the time for superficial action,” Bass warned. “This is the time for us to demonstrate our ability to address the people who are peacefully in the street every day with comprehensive legislation.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020:
• Prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling.
• Mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement.
• Requires law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities. saves lives by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
• Bans chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning chokeholds.
• Bans no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level.
• Requires that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first.
• Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.”
• Condition grants on state and local law enforcement agencies’ establishing the same use of force standard.
• Limits military equipment on American streets, requires body cameras.
• Limits the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement.
• Requires federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras.
• Requires marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras.
• Hold Police Accountable in Court.
• Makes it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard.
• Enables individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement.
• Improves the use of pattern and practice investigations at the federal level by granting the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power and creates a grant program for state attorneys general to develop authority to conduct independent investigations into problematic police departments.
Empower Our Communities to re-imagine Public Safety in an Equitable and Just Way.
This bill reinvests in our communities by supporting critical community-based programs to change the culture of law enforcement and empower our communities to reimagine public safety in an equitable and just way.
It establishes public safety innovation grants for community-based organizations to create local commissions and task forces to help communities to re-imagine and develop concrete, just, and equitable public safety approaches. These local commissions would operate similar to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
• Changes the Culture of Law Enforcement with Training to Build Integrity and Trust.
• Requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations based on President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century policing.
• Creates law enforcement development and training programs to develop best practices.
• Studies the impact of laws or rules that allow a law enforcement officer to delay answers to questions posed by investigators of law enforcement misconduct.
• Enhances funding for pattern and practice discrimination investigations and programs managed by the DOJ Community Relations Service.
•Requires the Attorney General to collect data on investigatory actions and detentions by federal law enforcement agencies; the racial distribution of drug charges; the use of deadly force by and against law enforcement officers; as well as traffic and pedestrian stops and detentions.
•Establishes a DOJ task force to coordinate the investigation, prosecution and enforcement efforts of federal, state, and local governments in cases related to law enforcement misconduct.
Improve Transparency by Collecting Data on Police Misconduct and Use-of-Force.
• Creates a nationwide police misconduct registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency, from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.
Mandates state and local law enforcement agencies to report use of force data, disaggregated by race, sex, disability, religion, age.
• Make Lynching a Federal Crime.
• Makes it a federal crime to conspire to violate existing federal hate crimes laws.
June 15, 2020 (GIN) – A world court designed to investigate allegations of human rights violations has found itself in the crosshairs of the President of the United States.
A new Trump executive order threatening the court’s operations has been condemned by prominent global institutions and individuals as it appears to give cover to human rights abuses committed in the course of U.S. foreign wars while demanding accountability from foreign countries in similar circumstances.
The International Criminal Court (ICC), for example, has the power to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in north east Nigeria, and by so doing, offers the possibility of justice for Nigerians who suffered abuses by the military fighting Boko Haram in that region.
In March, the ICC ruled that it could also investigate allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan – including any committed by the U.S. – taking a step that outraged the Trump administration.
Param-Preet Singh of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, praised the decision of the ICC to greenlight an investigation of brutal crimes in Afghanistan, reaffirming the court’s essential role for victims when all other doors to justice are closed.
After years of collecting information on the Afghanistan war, the court’s chief prosecutor, Ms. Fatou Bensouda of The Gambia, said that enough information had been found to prove that U.S. forces “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence” in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, and later in clandestine C.I.A. facilities in Poland, Romania and Lithuania.
She requested permission to open an investigation into claims of war crimes and crimes against humanity attributed to the U.S. military and intelligence personnel, the Taliban and Afghan forces.
The United Nations’ mission in Afghanistan has documented the killings of more than 17,000 civilians by the Taliban since 2009, including nearly 7,000 targeted killings. Yet, last April, a U.N. report found that U.S. and Afghan forces had killed more civilians in the first three months of 2019 than the Taliban did..
Objections by the U.S. to being examined for serious crimes in Afghanistan began with John R. Bolton, then the national security adviser, who denounced the court as “illegitimate.” He said: “We won’t cooperate with the I.C.C. We will provide no assistance to the I.C.C. And we certainly will not join the I.C.C. We will let the I.C.C. die on its own.” He added, “If the court comes after us, we will not sit quietly.”
Similar comments have been made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Shaharzad Akbar, the head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said the court had made the right decision to procede over U.S. objections. “We will advocate for victims regardless of the group affiliation of the perpetrator — whether U.S. actors, Taliban or Afghan forces,” Ms. Akbar said.
The ICC was established more than 15 years ago to seek justice for victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.17, 2020-
By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent
Since protestors and demonstrators have taken to the streets around the globe in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, many businesses and organizations have issued statements and taken measures to communicate their stand against racial injustice.
On Wednesday, June 10, NASCAR joined that ever-growing list with the announcement that it’s removing the Confederate flag from all of its events.
“The presence of the Confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR officials wrote in a statement.
“Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the Confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
Companies and organizations like the National Basketball Association, Goldman Sachs, Amazon, Ben & Jerry’s, and Nike have also issued statements condemning racial injustice.
However, skeptics say it remains too early to tell if the growing list of businesses will support African American-owned businesses and the continued cry for racial equality.
“NASCAR isn’t a museum. It’s a sport. And on race day, it’s a sport that invests more time and pageantry honoring America than anyone,” writer Dan Wolken wrote in an Op-Ed for USA Today. “The people who insist the Confederate flag is an important part of that pageantry are not amplifying the values inherent to American sports. They’re mocking the long road to progress that has once again arrived at a defining, historic moment,”
While many took to social media to voice their surprise about NASCAR’s decision, one of the sport’s premier drivers and NASCAR’s lone Black competitor joined in to applaud the move.
“I’m just really proud of the efforts of NASCAR for stepping up and wanting to be a part of the change,” Bubba Wallace, who’s No. 43 Chevrolet car has the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag painted over the vehicle, told Good Morning America.
“I know it’s tough, they’re in a tough situation,” Wallace stated. “They’ve been in a tough situation for a long time now, but I think this is the most crucial time and time is of the essence right now in the world that we’re in and the nation that we’re in to create change and create unity and come together and really try to be more inclusive.”
BIRMINGHAM – U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) today wrote to President Donald Trump, last week to urge him to appoint members to the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board. While Congress passed Senator Jones’ legislation to establish the board in 2018, and later appropriated $1 million requested by the Trump Administration to implement it, delays continue in the appointment of board members who would carry out the board’s work.
Senator Jones’ bipartisan legislation, the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018, required the review, declassification, and release of government records related to unsolved Civil Rights-era criminal cases. To do this work, it established a Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board and required that appointments to the board should be made within 60 days.
“When you signed the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018 on January 8, 2019, you helped this country take an important step towards finding truth and reconciliation for families and communities still struggling with the pain of unsolved civil rights crimes,” Senator Jones wrote. “As our country is once again grappling with important questions related to civil rights, I urge you to appoint the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board as expeditiously as possible and fulfill the promise of this important legislation.”
Senator Jones, who successfully prosecuted two of the former Klansmen responsible for the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, has long advocated for expanded public access to civil rights cold case records in an effort to uncover the truth. In 2007, he also testified to the House Judiciary Committee in support of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act that established a special initiative in the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate civil rights cold cases.
By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today
Black Lives Matter protesters in the United Kingdom pulled the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th century slave trader, off its base in Bristol, England, and rolled it down the street before pushing it into the harbor to a watery grave to loud cheers, according to the BBC. The entire event was captured by photographers.
Protesters in Bristol, a city in South West England, used ropes to pull down the 18- foot tall bronze statue of Colston leaning on his walking stick.
The statue was dedicated in 1895, but for many city residents and others it had been a source of controversy because of his slave-trading past, although streets, buildings and bridges in Bristol are named after Colston who died in 1721. Before he died, he gave his wealth to charities.
Any association with his name is controversial by some. In February 2019, St. Mary Redcliffe and Temple School in Bristol announced that it would be renaming Colston House as Johnson House, after the American mathematician Katherine Johnson, a black woman, who plotted astronaut John Glenn’s successful February 20, 1962, orbit of the Earth.
Colston was an official of the Royal African Company and for a short time as Member of Parliament. In 1680, the company monopolized Britain’s slave trade, selling 80,000 to 100,000 black men, women, and children to businessmen in the Americas in exchange for tobacco, sugar and other goods.
Royal African Company employees branded captured slaves with the initials RAC, using a red-hot branding iron.
Bristol was a key port in the triangular slave trade. In the first side of the slavery triangle, manufactured goods were shipped to West Africa and exchanged for Africans. The enslaved captives were transported across the Atlantic to the Americas in the Middle Passage under brutal conditions.
The third side of the triangle, plantation goods such as sugar, tobacco, rum, rice, cotton, and a few slaves (sold to the aristocracy as house servants) returned across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom.
At the height of the Bristol slave trade from 1700 to 1807, more than 2,000 slave ships carried an estimated 500,000 people from Africa to slavery in the Americas.
After the Colston statute was torn from its base, a protester pressed his knee on Colston’s neck similar to the way former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to back of a handcuffed George Floyd’s neck as he lay face down on the ground, killing him.
The removal of Colston’s statute occurred during the second day of demonstrations in Manchester, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Glasgow, and Edinburgh over Floyd’s murder and in protest of police brutality and racial inequality.
By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today
The death of Rayshard Brooks, a black man killed by a white police officer in Atlanta on Friday, was a homicide caused by gunshot wounds to the back, the Fulton county medical examiner’s office has said, as the US headed into a fourth week of unrest over police violence.
An autopsy conducted on Sunday showed that Brooks, 27, died from blood loss and organ injuries caused by two gunshot wounds, an investigator for the medical examiner said in a statement. The manner of his death was homicide, the statement said.
Brooks’s death reignited protests in Atlanta after days of worldwide demonstrations against racism and police brutality prompted by the death of George Floyd, an African American, in police custody in Minneapolis on 25 May.
Garrett Rolfe, a six-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department, who shot a fleeing Rayshard Brooks twice in the back, killing him, had completed de-escalation and cultural-awareness training after which he received a department certificate. However, in 2017, the department reprimanded him with a use of force complaint.
Employees of an Atlanta Wendy’s restaurant called the police and told them Brooks had fallen asleep in his car while stopped in the drive-through lane, causing other motorists to drive around him. Rolfe woke up Brooks. He fell back to sleep before Rolfe woke him up again.
In a video, Brooks is shown holding what appears to be friendly 20-minute conversation with Rolfe, agreeing to park his car and walk home.
What appears to be a cordial exchange turns violent and later deadly when Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, another officer, attempted to handcuff Brooks after claiming he failed a sobriety test.
Brooks wrestled with the two cops, overpowered them, and took one of the officer’s tasers and runs away. They chase him.
During the chase, Brooks turns around and fires the taser. He turns around and continues to run before Rolfe shoots him twice in the back.
The 27 year-old Brooks collapses in the Wendy’s parking lot and dies. The next day, the Fulton County Medical Examiner ruled that his death was a homicide.
Brooks’ death sparked a number of other incidents and anger in the black collective memory about our treatment by police. The Wendy’s restaurant was set on fire. Police are looking for two white women suspects. One of the women was dressed in black.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned to take an undisclosed position in the department and Rolfe was fired. Brosnan was placed on administrative duty.
Brooks’ death sparked demonstrations throughout the city and demands for him to be charged with a crime.
On Facebook, one man wrote about the unequal treatment black men receive from the police.
“If the police can take Dylan Roof to Burger King to get something to eat after he murdered nine black parishioners attending Bible Study at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., why couldn’t they drive Brooks home or get him a Uber?”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she would issue orders for the cops to de-escalate situations. Earlier this month, Mayor Bottoms named a “Use of Force Advisory” committee to transform the relationship between law enforcement and Atlanta’s citizens.
The council was scheduled to make initial recommendations in 14 days and to make a more extensive report in no later than 45 days.
During a news conference Monday, Mayor Bottoms said Brooks’ death increased the urgency for the recommendations to be implemented.
Brook’s death follows the May 25th murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. His murder sparked worldwide protests that continue to this day, resulting police shooting being handled with much more urgency in a break from the past.