Dozens of mourners, some dressed in white and others in Black Lives Matter shirts, remembered Rayshard Brooks and called for change during a private funeral Tuesday at a historic Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached.
“We cannot stop our protests until our voices are heard and our demands for police reform are met. We must not stop until the politics and practices of white supremacy are no longer on today’s order,” said King’s daughter. , the Rev. Bernice King. “We will not stop until voter suppression is a thing of the past. We will not stop until reparations put us on the path to being free at last.”
Brooks, 27, died on June 12 in a shooting involving an officer in the Wendy’s Atlanta parking lot. The video showed Brooks resisted being cuffed, grabbed, and shot at an officer’s Taser and started running. An officer shot him twice in the back, investigators said.
A friend of Brooks, his mother-in-law, and the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, also made statements Tuesday.
ATLANTA OFFICER’S CHARGES IN THE RAYSHARD BROOKS CASE: “I HAVE 100 PERCENT FAITH, THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT”
“Although I did not have a chance to meet Rayshard, I am here to support him in what feels like an overly familiar moment. Having a father killed when he was only 5 years old, my heart deeply regrets [his daughters] Dream, memory, blessing and [stepson] Mekai, “said King.” I know the pain of growing up without a father and the constant attention around his tragic loss. I am and will continue to pray for each one of you. “
“This didn’t have to happen to Rayshard,” said King. “Rayshard Brooks’s life is important, and she should have been able to live to enjoy her family and watch her children grow into adulthood.”
“Officers should have gone home that night with no blood on their hands,” King continued. “This is the great tragedy in our nation that must stop.”
King also said June 12 was “a constant reminder of the fight for justice,” noting that on that date in 1963, Medgar Evers, Mississippi NAACP field secretary, was shot dead on his way to entry and, on that date, in 1964 Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring through the South African government.
“This happened in the city known as Black Mecca. The city in the city whose land is known to America and the world warrior for peace. My dad, Martin Luther King Jr., who taught us that true peace is not simply the absence of tension but it is the presence of justice. Therefore, there can be no peace in Atlanta or in any part of our nation where there is no justice. There is no justice … there is no peace, “said King, receiving echoes from the crowd phrase. .
“Atlanta is not immune to the problem of structural and systemic racism. Atlanta is being called upon to take now to respond to the ancient virus of racism … Now is the time for Black Lives Matter.”
Others in the service included Stacey Abrams, the former state lawmaker who has been cited as a possible partner for alleged Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Jon Ossoff, a young Georgia media executive and Democrat challenging Republican Senator David Perdue later this year, was also seen. Some mourners wore Brooks’ T-shirts.
The service followed a public visit that took place Monday at the same church. Warnock said actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry offered to cover the costs of the funeral.
The two officers involved in Brooks’ death were facing charges. The department fired Garrett Rolfe, the officer who shot Brooks.
Officer Devin Brosnan, who was the first on the scene responding to a 911 call about someone not responding in a car blocking the driveway, said he would have done nothing differently, but expressed remorse over Brooks’ death.
“It is totally a tragedy,” Brosnan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview published Monday. “At the end of the day, someone lost their life. For me, it’s heartbreaking no matter what the circumstances, no matter what. When someone really dies it’s something you never want to happen, to have happened. I can’t imagine what would happen to a family.”
The video showed officers speaking to Brooks and conducting a sobriety test in the field before telling Brooks to put his hands behind his back. Brooks grabbed Brosnan’s Taser and fired the electric current at him, which Brosnan was seen pulling away from his head with his hand. Brooks started to flee and Rolfe shot him three times, hitting him twice in the back.
Brosnan was released with a $ 50,000 bonus. He has been charged with aggravated assault for standing on Brooks with his boot and three violations of his oath. Rolfe remained jailed for a felony murder and 10 other charges.
“I feel that my side was not really listened to and given the short period of time it is difficult for anyone to understand all the facts and circumstances surrounding it,” Brosnan said. “That said, I am still willing to cooperate.”
Tuesday’s funeral service was streamed live on the church’s website, and BET offered live, commercial-free coverage of the event.
A judge postponed an afternoon bail hearing for Rolfe that would have been in conflict with the funeral. According to the law, crime victims and their families have the right to be heard in such proceedings.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned the day after the shooting. The city erupted in violence and protests as protesters set the Wendy’s on fire. Brooks’ death followed the murder of another black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis on May 25.
Floyd died after a white officer, Derek Chauvin, was seen kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes, while three other officers did not intervene. The video of the incident sparked widespread calls for an end to racial injustice and police brutality, as well as weeks of violent riots and looting after dark. Officers and protesters have been injured in violent clashes.
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Black Lives Matter has renewed calls to dismantle police departments across the country, and Confederate statues and monuments have been smashed by protesters or removed by officials in several states.
Associated Press contributed to this report.