On June 12, a 27-year-old African man named Rayshard Brooks was shot twice in the back and murdered by Atlanta cop Garrett Rolfe in the parking lot of a local Wendy’s.
Atlanta cop Devin Brosnan arrived at the Wendy’s after a call was made reporting a man asleep in a car, blocking the drive thru. Shortly after, Rolfe arrived on the scene. The cops awakened Brooks and questioned him.
Brooks was calm and collected during the course of the interview. Brooks was administered a field sobriety test and was found to be slightly above the legal alcohol level. Brooks asked to leave his car in the parking lot and to be allowed to walk to his sister’s house, which was down the block.
Following the questioning, Rolfe abruptly attempted to handcuff Brooks.
In violation of regulations, Rayshard Brooks was never informed that he was under arrest or going to be detained. Brooks rightfully resisted the illegal detention and tried to break free.
Brosnan drew his taser on Brooks. Brooks took Brosnan’s taser and discharged it, hitting the ground. Brooks stood up, punched Rolfe and attempted to flee. While running after Brooks, Rolfe fired his taser. Brooks fired the taser he disarmed from Brosnan one more time, missing Rolfe.
Rolfe threw down his taser, pulled his gun and shot Rayshard Brooks twice in the back. Rolfe then kicked Brooks while he lay on the ground and Brosnan stood on his shoulders.
Rayshard Brooks died during surgery.
Public outrage sparks resistance
A video of the murder of Rayshard Brooks went viral overnight, sparking public outrage from the African community in Atlanta and beyond.
On June 12 and June 13, protesters demonstrated at Wendy’s. The public response prompted the resignation of Atlanta police chief Erika Shields.
On June 13, the Wendy’s where Brooks was murdered was burned down.
The coroner’s inquest ruled Rayshard Brooks’ death a homicide. Brosnan was put on administrative duty and Rolfe was fired.
On June 17, Rolfe was charged with felony murder, aggravated assault, violation of police oath and damage of property. Brosnan was charged with aggravated assault and violation of police oath, as well.
Georgia governor and Atlanta mayor “back the blue”
These charges have sparked a different response amongst the Atlanta police rank-in-file described as a “blue flu” protest.
In the days following the arraignments of Rolfe and Brosnan, an undisclosed number of cops refused to report for duty. Though numbers have not been released, in one precinct with dozens of cops, only one reported for duty. Reportedly, on June 19, in Atlanta’s Zone 5 community, every single one called-in sick.
Georgia elected officials have reversed course from their public expressions of solidarity with the protests.
Atlanta’s neocolonial, petty bourgeois African mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced a “ten-fold” reduction in police morale. Georgia governor Brian Kemp stated that he “backed the blue.”
Atlanta police have been given $500 bonus checks in response to the murder of Rayshard Brooks.
Atlanta is a neocolonial city
The position of the African working class in Atlanta is no different than that of the African working class in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya or any other place that the African petty bourgeoisie has seized neocolonial power.
At one time, Atlanta had an African population of over 70 percent, though it is now 51 percent according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Africans still hold a plurality of city council seats. Nearly 60 percent of Atlanta police are African.
Nearly one out of five households in Atlanta earns $150,000 annually. The top one percent of Georgia has an income of $350,000 or above.
The bottom ten percent of Atlanta, mostly African and Indigenous, earns $10,000 or less annually.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that for the white power colonial class and the African petty bourgeoisie, Atlanta is on par with cities like San Francisco, New York City and Washington D.C. For the African working class, it is one of the worst places to live in the United States.
It is under the leadership of a black mayor, black city council and black congressional representative that gentrification, unemployment, poverty, home foreclosures and police violence have raged through the city.
The African working class in Atlanta has still not received power.
The Brooks family demands power. So do we!
Unlike other instances, the family of Rayshard Brooks has not sought to quell public anger. The Brooks family has urged resistance. They have demanded power.
Crystal Brooks, Rayshard’s sister-in-law, joined the protests. It has even been alleged that Brooks’ girlfriend Natalie White torched the Wendy’s where he was murdered.
In late May, rappers Killer Mike and TI held a press conference where they argued Atlanta was different from other cities. The murder of Rayshard Brooks proves otherwise.
Brooks’ murder recalls the 2003 murder of Nathaniel Jones in front of a Cincinnati White Castle. Cops tasered and beat Jones to death. The coroner blamed Jones’ death on obesity and drugs.
Brooks’ murder recalls the 2015 murder of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. Scott was shot in the back as he ran from a traffic stop.
Brooks’ murder recalls the recent lynchings of Ahmaud Arbery in South Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, George Floyd in Minneapolis and countless other Africans who have been killed.
While the Democratic Party leadership in Atlanta and the U.S. has donned kente cloth, taken knees and even said “Black Lives Matter,” the African working class knows that the value of black lives will only be recognized when we get Black Power.
Like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks died of colonial violence and the solution is Black Power, Black Community Control of the Police and the death of colonialism.
Join the struggle for Black Power by becoming a member of the African People’s Socialist Party at apspuhuru.org
Black Community Control of the Police!
Black Power Matters!