Atlanta Burning

Chaos, arson follow police shooting of Rayshard Brooks.

Atlanta was still smoldering Sunday from riots following the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks on Friday. The 27-year-old African American had fallen asleep and his car was blocking the drive-thru lane at a Wendy’ restaurant. Brooks failed a sobriety test and according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, “during the arrest, the male subject resisted and a struggle ensued.”

As surveillance video revealed, “during a physical struggle with officers, Brooks obtained one of the officer’s Tasers and began to flee from the scene.  Officers pursued Brooks on foot and during the chase, Brooks turned and pointed the Taser at the officer.  The officer fired his weapon, striking Brooks,” who died after surgery at a local hospital. The police bodycam video captured part of the struggle.

Rioters torched the Wendy’s restaurant, blocked Interstate 85, and painted “Defund the Police” on Atlanta police headquarters, where police chief Erika Shields resigned. Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a possible running mate for Joe Biden, told reporters, “I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force.” The city fired officer Garrett Rolfe and placed officer Devin Brosnan on administrative duty.

“I am confident GBI Director Vic Reynolds and his team will follow the facts to ensure justice is served,” tweeted Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Stacey Abrams, who lost to Kemp in 2018 and is being touted as a running mate for Joe Biden, tweeted,  “The killing of Rashard Brooks in Atlanta last night demands we severely restrict the use of deadly force. . . sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death.” Harder to find were statements by prominent Democrats criticizing violent rioters and citing accurate information on police shootings.

According to Larry Elder, citing a Washington Post database, “last year, there were nine unarmed black people killed by law enforcement,” and “nineteen unarmed white people.” Police killed in the line of duty also outnumber unarmed blacks killed by police.

As the FBI reports, “89 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2019” and of those, “48 officers died as a result of felonious acts.” Forty-five of the slain officers were male, three were female, 40 were white and seven black. Six of the slain officers were conducting traffic stops and nine involved in tactical situations.

Five police officers were slain in “unprovoked attacks” and four were responding to crimes in progress. Three police officers were slain while assisting other officers, three were involved in vehicular pursuits and two were “ambushed,” victims of entrapment and premeditation.

“Offenders used firearms to kill 44 of the 48 victim officers,” the FBI reports, and of the 44 officers killed by firearms, 34 were slain with handguns, seven with rifles and one with a shotgun. In addition, “four officers were killed with vehicles used as weapons.”

If the killings were caught on video, few if any have circulated on social media. By all indications, none prompted demonstrations on behalf of the slain officers and against the criminals who had taken their lives. Likewise, the 18 murders in Chicago on May 31 alone, with victims including African American college student Keishanay Bolden, have not prompted widespread protests from groups such as Black Lives Matter.

On Saturday, Hawk Newsome, New York chairman of Black Lives Matter, took aim at the African American Val Demings, also on Joe Biden’s list for a running mate.  “Joe Biden would be an idiot to put her on his ticket. People are already on the fence about him,” Newsome told the New York Post. “When black people become police officers, they are no longer black. They are blue. And I have been told this by numerous officers.”

Demings rose through the ranks and in 2007 became chief of police in Jacksonville, Florida.  Demings defended the Department from charges that, “rogue cops” operated with impunity. “Looking for a negative story in a police department is like looking for a prayer at church,” Demings wrote. “I believe a reasonable person also understands that a few seconds (even on video) rarely capture the entire set of circumstances.” The VP prospect also encourages young Americans, “no matter the color of their skin or how much money they or their parents have or where they live in this country,” to “live the American dream.”

For Black Lives Matter’s Hawk Newsome, Demings is “no longer black.” In similar style, Joe Biden recently told radio host Charlamagne tha God, “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

That came as a surprise to Sen. Tim Scott, black for 54 years. On Sunday the South Carolina Republican said the situation with Rayshard Brooks, was “a far less clear one than the ones that we saw with George Floyd and several other ones around the country.” Outcomes with law enforcement “seem to have a racial component,” Scott said, but “most of us don’t really understand the definition of systemic racism.”

On Sunday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told reporters Rayshard Brooks “did not seem to present any kind of threat to anyone, and so the fact that it would escalate to his death just seems unreasonable.” The decision whether to bring charges could come on Wednesday.


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