ATLANTA — Outrage over the death of Rayshard Brooks continued on a rain-soaked Sunday in Georgia’s capital city, with demonstrators returning to the burnt-out shell of the fast-food restaurant where he was shot by a now-fired police officer.
Brooks’ death is the latest of a Black person at the hands of police in a country still reeling from the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, both of which have sparked nationwide protests against racial inequality and police brutality.
His death was ruled a homicide on Sunday night by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office, caused by two gunshots wounds to the back.
“They are killing us every day,” said Kenyah Farley, who was among the small group of protesters who marched to the Georgia State Capitol, where there is a prominent statue of a Confederate soldier John Brown Gordon. “Not just in the streets but in the prisons, too. … I don’t want to see another man dead on the street because he was drunk at a freaking Wendys.”
Brooks, 27, was shot by an officer late Friday outside of a Wendy’s after police responded to a call about him being asleep in his car in the drive-thru lane. He failed a sobriety test and officers tried to handcuff him. Bodycam video shows Brooks wrestling with two white officers and appearing to get a Taser from one of them.
Brooks was fleeing when he was shot, the video shows.
On Sunday, hundreds of protesters joined the dozens who remained in front of the charred restaurant, which was set on fire by protesters late Saturday night and again on Sunday.
A handful of people were still outside of the Wendy’s late Sunday, prompting police to close a nearby road.
Some in the small group played music from speakers. Others held each other in front of the memorial of flowers and stuffed animals that now lines the front of the gutted restaurant.
Occasionally, cars pulled in and rolled around the building, tracing the drive-thru line that Brooks was waiting in when he fell asleep, prompting the fatal 911 call.
Duke Henry was among the late crowd. He’d been there the night before, too.
“It could have been me,” he said.
Protesters who earlier in the day tried to block the road near the Wendy’s on Interstate 85 were cleared by police using pepper spray. As the rain began to clear up, jail buses joined police dressed in riot gear under a bridge on the interstate.
The demonstrators took shelter at a nearby gas station, chanting “Black Lives Matter!” while under the canopy.
Saidah Kimerman arrived at what remained of the Wendy’s at about 6 p.m., joined by her 13-year-old daughter Marcroee. She said she wanted her daughter to see what had happened there and to experience the protests that followed firsthand.
“We’ve been hearing these stories for years and years and years,” the mother said. “I really hope these kids see this. I tell them all the time, it’s going to be them that helps to build a new world.”
Away from Wendy’s, hundreds of protesters holding signs, raising their fists and chanting “No justice no peace!” marched peacefully to Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta. There was virtually no police presence during the march.
Only a few protesters showed up to the Capitol building, where state police had one street blocked off. No protesters came near the law enforcement officers.
On Saturday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she didn’t believe the shooting of Brooks was a “justified use of deadly force” by the former officer. Atlanta Police Department Chief Erika Shields resigned in the wake of the shooting.
Sunday, the department announced that Garrett Rolfe, a seven-year veteran, had been fired. Officer Devin Brosnan, on the force for less than two years, was placed on administrative duty.
The NAACP called for a Monday protest: The “March on Georgia” is scheduled for 9 a.m.
“It is unconscionable that a country still feeling the sting of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, would be sitting here addressing another wound dealt to us by the those who have sworn to protect and serve,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement.
He added, “Until this nation is willing to address the systemic racism that has been allowed to manifest itself in police brutality, criminal justice, education, voting rights, economic wealth-gaps, and every other imaginable area that affords us an equal and sustainable life, America remains in breach of contract with the Black community.”