*(Atlanta, GA) – Nancy Flake Johnson, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta issued the following statement today in response to the shooting death of a black man who was fleeing police in a Wendy’s parking lot on June 12, and the subsequent resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields:
“We are deeply saddened yet again by another senseless shooting death, this time of Rayshard Brooks. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, the people who loved him, and our communities that live with the daily trauma of brutality and violence. Our anguish runs deep through our souls, and we ask how many more lives will be lost before the killing stops. Mr. Brooks, at 27 years old, is now another victim in the painfully long list of black men and women brutally killed by police using excessive force instead of de-escalation tactics in their interactions with people in black and brown communities. This should have been a “wellness check” instead of an arrest. This must stop!!
“Today’s resignation of Police Chief Erika Shields reflects a change that is sweeping the nation with people in positions of power accepting accountability and opening up possibilities for change in policing and public safety practices in the nation. However, leadership change alone is not enough.
“We must seize this moment to commit to the launch of the difficult but necessary work of tearing down the oppressive constructs and infrastructure that are the foundations of law enforcement agencies throughout our nation. These institutions were foundational to a time when black people were enslaved and were nothing more to a system than free labor and “property” to the white people who held them in bondage.
“Centuries of targeted brutality of black men, women, and children (recent examples are Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, to name a few) must end here and now.
“We give honor to the Black Lives Matter movement and the black and diverse protesters who have ramped up the call for an end to systemic racism and over-policing of black communities following the brutal killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and the thousands more over the years. We must keep pushing together on all fronts until change comes, so that none of these lives lost will be in vain.
“The momentum must continue, and we cannot rest until black people everywhere can play in a park, jog through a neighborhood, sleep in a car, and do so many other simple things our white counterparts consider basic freedoms. This will happen with radical and systemic changes to the philosophy of community policing, and when the infrastructure and laws that oppress black people and fuel the fires of vigilantism are doused completely.
“Measures toward progress include abolishing antiquated Citizens Arrest laws (being taken up by the Georgia General Assembly this week) that Ahmaud Arbery’s killers rested on to justify taking his life. Also necessary are new models of recruitment; training in de-escalation and community policing policies and procedures; data collection; defunding and redirecting of resources strategies, tear down and rebuild strategies and transparency across all critical platforms of policing. Humane and people-serving constructs must be the foundation of our new system of community policing, adopted and implemented as a wholescale reframing of equal justice in our nation and our world.
One officer fired, another on administrative leave after deadly shooting of Rayshard Brooks
Officer Garrett Rolfe has been terminated from the department. Watch report via player below:
“Chief Shields has resigned, but her resignation alone will not guarantee the systemic change that is required. We must have a complete overhaul of policing and public safety policies and practices in Atlanta, throughout our region, and throughout the state.
“The Urban League of Greater Atlanta has launched “A New Day Police Reform and Accountability” initiative as part of an affiliate-wide call to action by Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. We stand committed and ready to work with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and other city, county and state officials, community partners, other civil rights, community and faith-based organizations, community organizers and the business community to begin the bold and necessary process to effect systemic change. Most importantly, community residents must have a voice and seats at the table to help guide us toward collectively crafted, sustainable, workable, appropriate solutions as we work to rebuild trust that are at their core focused on protecting black lives and promoting equality throughout our society.
“The lives of black victims of police brutality cannot be dismissed with only regret, wishes, and calls for change anymore. We demand action.”
About the Urban League of Greater Atlanta
The Urban League of Greater Atlanta (ULGA) is a non-profit civil rights organization dedicated to the social justice and economic advancement of African Americans founded in 1920. The ULGA is a person to person organization operates as a Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) that supports youth, adults and families to become financially empowered through three key tenants; 1) supporting families to become stable, meet their basic needs and personal wellness 2) supporting families to increase household income through high demand career pathways, education, and small business development and 3) gain financial empowerment through financial and money management skills development, financial and credit coaching, asset and wealth building strategies. Celebrating 100 years of service to metro Atlanta in 2020, we are a dedicated person to person organization that focuses on social and economic justice and closing the racial wealth gap. For more information call 404-659-6580 or visit our website at www.ulgatl.org.