Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Residents of Maplewood, South Orange, and West Orange march on June 13, 2020 in South Orange, New Jersey.Protests continued across the nation for the 19th day in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

Residents of Maplewood, South Orange, and West Orange march on June 13, 2020 in South Orange, New Jersey.Protests continued across the nation for the 19th day in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

Atlanta Police Shoot and Kill Rayshard Brooks as Protests Demanding Racial Justice Continue Worldwide

"This is not the first time a black man has been killed for sleeping," said Rev. James Woodall, state president of the Georgia NAACP.

Jessica Corbett

Demands for accountability and sweeping reforms mounted Saturday after Atlanta police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, Friday night amid a wave of global protests against police violence and systemic racism sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis late last month.

"Sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death."
—Stacey Abrams, Georgia activist

In a message to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Saturday, the Georgia NAACP tweeted that the city's police department "needs a serious overhaul. The continuation of these kinds of actions require immediate resolution. Instead of seeing an improvement, it continues to happen day after day."

The Georgia NAACP said the Atlanta Police Department (APD) "has had a culture of excessive use of force" and called for Police Chief Erika Shields to be "relieved immediately." The group also demanded the release of "body cam footage and all surveillance video from surrounding buildings" to shed light on Brooks' killing.

Bottoms announced during a Saturday afternoon news conference that Shields offered her resignation, which she accepted. The mayor also said that she does "not believe this was a justified use of deadly force" and she has "called for the immediate termination of the officer" who shot Brooks. 

Brooks died following surgery at a local hospital after APD officers were dispatched to a Wendy's restaurant around 10:30 pm Friday to respond to "a complaint of [Brooks] in a vehicle parked in the drive-thru asleep, causing other customers to drive around the vehicle," according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which is investigating the shooting. The involved officers have not yet been publicly identified.

GBI initially said that after Brooks failed a field sobriety test, "officers attempted to place the male subject into custody. During the arrest, the male subject resisted and a struggle ensued" involving a Taser. In an updated statement Saturday, GBI said, "An earlier account of this incident was based on the officer's body cam which was knocked off during the physical struggle, preventing the capture of the entire shooting incident."

Video footage of Brooks' encounter with APD circulated on social media and appears to show him running away from officers when he was shot. The updated GBI statement said the bureau had "obtained additional surveillance video from the Wendy's restaurant," which was released to the public.

"Agents have also reviewed video posted on social media," GBI added. "These new videos indicate that 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."

Rev. James Woodall, state president of the Georgia NAACP, told reporters Saturday that "this is not the first time a black man has been killed for sleeping." He added that "while Atlanta is often called 'the Black Mecca,' the Atlanta Police Department has a continued history of antagonizing our communities."

The Washington Post reported that during a call with journalists Saturday afternoon,

Woodall stopped short of calling for Bottoms' resignation, but said that it was her responsibility to ensure citizens have "the kind of police department the City of Atlanta deserves." Woodall also called out the lack of public statements from the mayor's office and police department as of early Saturday afternoon.

Woodall said the Georgia NAACP has hired a private investigator and that a press conference would take place Tuesday morning.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Woodall was asked if his group has been in contact with Bottoms or APD. "At this present moment," he said, "we have not heard from the mayor herself or the police chief, and the silence is deafening."

Stacey Abrams, a Georgia voting rights activist who ran for governor as a Democrat in 2018, took to Twitter Saturday to demand investigations and accountability in this case as well as broader reforms in local policing. She declared: "Sleeping in a drive-thru must not end in death."

Brooks' death added to the growing outrage over police violence toward people of color, particularly black Americans, that has fueled #DefundPolice demands and demonstrations across the U.S. and in other countries for nearly three weeks.

Saturday also saw demonstrations in other U.S. cities including Washington, D.C. as well as in London, Paris, Prauge, and Perth, the capital of Western Australia. Some events in Europe drew far-right counter-protesters who clashed with police.

This post was updated after Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Saturday that police Chief Erika Shields had resigned.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·


Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn US Lawmakers Against Fueling 'New Cold War' With China

A policy of hostility toward Beijing, says a global justice advocate, has "become a convenient excuse for pushing a corporate, militarist agenda."

Jessica Corbett ·


Democracy 'On the Line' Says Bowman After Protest Arrest

"I will not stand by and I will not stay quiet while the fate of our democracy continues to hang loosely by a thread that the Senate is hellbent on tearing apart."

Julia Conley ·


To 'Hold Her Accountable for What She Did,' Primary Sinema Project Gets Into Gear

"Kyrsten Sinema is unfit to be a United States senator," the project asserts. "Just like the filibuster itself, we need to get rid of her if we want to save our democracy before it's too late."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo