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Monday, April 15, 2024

Rayshard Brooks shot in US: fiery protests and debate ensue

A Wendy's restaurant where 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was killed was set on fire Saturday and hundreds of people marched to protest the killing. The black man is the latest in a string of police killings, and after the murder of George Floyd, citizens are furious that systemic racism is still an issue in the US.

The fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer, this time in Atlanta, Georgia, poured more fuel Sunday on a raging US debate over racism after another round of street protests and the resignation of the city’s police chief.

A Wendy’s restaurant where 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was killed was set on fire Saturday and hundreds of people marched to protest the killing.

Rayshard Brooks shot in US; CCTV records shooting

Recorded on video and surveillance cameras, Brooks’s fatal encounter with police was the latest in a string of incidents that has sparked a wave of nationwide protests over police brutality.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced at a news conference Saturday that Police Chief Erika Shields had decided to step down.

“I do not believe this was a justified use of deadly force,” Bottoms said. The officer who shot Brooks — identified as Garrett Rolfe — was dismissed.

The death drew expressions of outrage, shock and dismay in a country deeply shaken by civil unrest since the May 25 police killing in Minneapolis, Minnesota of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.

Read more: Unlawful killing of the black people exists in 21st century

The police killing of George Floyd comes on the back of two other killings of black Americans in recent weeks. Video footage of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, 25, from February began circulating in May. He was jogging through a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia when he was shot dead by two white men.

Systemic issues within the US police 

James Clyburn, an African American member of Congress from South Carolina, said he was incensed.

“This did not call for lethal force. And I don’t know what’s in the culture that would make this guy do that. It has got to be the culture. It’s got to be the system,” he said, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The latest protests come as lawmakers are debating how to reform a judicial system seen by critics as stacked against poor and minority citizens and which has proved stubbornly resistant to change.

Actor and activist Clooney joined global outrage against the death of George Floyd. He penned down an instructive analysis of the anti-black racism in the USA.

Read more: George Clooney calls ‘racism’ the America’s pandemic, reacts to killing of George Floyd

Clooney called for a “systematic change” of law enforcement, criminal justice, and political leadership style in the USA. He alerted that urgent actions are needed to combat racism in the USA.

Some activists on the left have taken up “defund the police” as a rallying cry, one that US President Donald Trump has jumped on to use as a cudgel against his Democratic rival for the White House, Joe Biden.

Biden, for his part, has tried to distance the party from the defund movement, instead advocating increased funding for community policing.

Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American congresswoman from Minnesota, called that idea “ludicrous” and instead supports dismantling troubled police forces in places like Minneapolis, her hometown, and rebuilding them from the ground up.

“Nobody is going to defund the police,” said Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives.

“The fact of the matter is, the police have a role to play,” he said. “What we have got to do is make sure that their role is one that meets the times, one that responds to these communities that they operate in,” he said.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday rebooted his flagging reelection campaign with a speech starkly rejecting nationwide protesters’ claims of police racism, saying only a “few bad apples” are to blame. While Trump praises US police in his reelection speeches, unrest has enveloped the United States, with protesters rampaging across the country in their anger at systemic racism.

Read more: Trump praises US police; rubbishes cries of racism

Far from reaching out to demonstrators’ searing anger, he offered only a vague proposal to “encourage” officers to meet “the most current professional standards for the use of force.”

Disproportionate force used by police

In Atlanta, authorities pledged a full investigation into Brooks’s death.

The incident began when police responded to a complaint that Brooks was asleep in his car, blocking the drive-in lane at the Wendy’s restaurant.

Brooks allegedly failed a sobriety test administered by police, and when the officers tried to arrest him, a struggle broke out.

Video of the incident circulating on social media showed two white police officers wrestling Brooks to the ground in the parking lot.

One of them attempts to use a Taser on Brooks, but he manages to grab the stun gun and run away, the video images show.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which probes police-involved killings, also released restaurant surveillance video that showed Brooks turn and appear to fire the Taser at the officers.

An officer reaches for his service weapon, and as Brooks turns back “the weapon goes off,” GBI director Vic Reynolds told reporters.

Brooks was taken to the hospital but died after surgery, the GBI said, adding that one officer was injured.

An attorney acting for the dead man’s family said disproportionate force was used in the confrontation.

“In Georgia, a Taser is not a deadly weapon — that’s the law,” L. Chris Stewart told reporters.

“Support came, in I think two minutes. He would have been boxed in and trapped. Why did you have to kill him?”

“(The officer) had other options than shooting a man in the back.”

Brooks had four children, Stewart added, and had celebrated the birthday of his eight-year-old daughter earlier on Friday.

His death is the 48th shooting involving an officer that the GBI has been asked to investigate this year, according to local newspaper the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fifteen of those incidents were fatal.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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