Ballots, Bullets and the African American Struggle in Georgia


June 22, 2020

By Abayomi Azikiwe

“This is why I say it’s the ballot or the bullet. It’s liberty or it’s death. It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody. America today finds herself in a unique situation. Historically, revolutions are bloody. Oh, yes, they are. There has not ever been a blood-less revolution, or a non-violent revolution. That don’t happen even in Hollywood. You don’t have a revolution in which you love your enemy, and you don’t have a revolution in which you are begging the system of exploitation to integrate you into it. Revolutions overturn systems. Revolutions destroy systems.”

(Quote from Malcolm X, El Hajj Malik Shabazz at the King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit on April 12,1964)

Atlanta, Georgia, often referred to in recent decades as a “mecca” for African Americans in the southern United States, has become a focal point in the movement to end police brutality.

Outside a Wendy’s fast food restaurant on June 12, a 27-year-old Black man was reported to police for sleeping in his vehicle. Once two white police officers arrived on the scene the entire atmosphere shifted to one of suspicion, interrogation, breathalyzer testing, attempted arrest, confrontation and execution by law-enforcement. The entire episode was captured from various angles on video as was the case in regard to the recent murder of George Floyd, 46, in Minneapolis.

Since the brutal killing of Floyd on May 25, the U.S. has been alight with mass demonstrations and urban rebellions along with a fierce political debate over the current status and future of policing. More than twenty people have been killed and in excess of 10,000 arrested as municipalities, state governments and the White House deploy security forces in an effort to halt, contain and misdirect the antiracist movement.

In the immediate aftermath of the killing of Brooks, people in Atlanta took to the streets picketing the restaurant and shutting it down. The Wendy’s restaurant where the killing took place was burned down the following evening. Hundreds of people blocked the expressway near the location while Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the dismissal of the police officer involved in the incident.

By June 17, the two officers, Garett Rolf and Devin Brosnan, were facing criminal charges. Rolf, who was seen in the video firing the fatal shots which hit Brooks twice in his back, was indicted on 11 criminal counts including felony murder. Brosnan, who was placed on administrative leave, is also said to be awaiting charges for aggravated assault. Although Brosnan did not discharge his weapon, he was videotaped sitting on the back of Brooks prior to his being shot to death.

The police action against Brooks prompted the resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields which was announced by Mayor Bottom on June 13. The mayor said the shooting death of Brooks was unjustified and the police chief had decided to allow for new leadership in the department.

A lawyer for the Brooks family, L. Chris Stewart, said to the media that the homicide was completely unjustified. Brooks had asked the police officers if he could walk home after the questioning and alcohol testing. Instead he was placed under arrest prompting a confrontation with Brooks. The African American man later attempted to flee the police effort to put him in handcuffs and was shot to death.

According to Attorney Stewart, “It didn’t have to go to that level. And that’s what we’re saying in America with policing, is this type of empathy gone. … Where is the empathy in just letting him walk home?”

The widow of Brooks, Tomika Miller, said: “I can never get my husband back. I can never get my best friend. … It’s just going to be a long time before I heal.” Brooks was a father and was well-loved by his relatives who spoke passionately about the struggle to win justice in the case.

Georgia Primary Reveals Further Voter Suppression ….

Atlanta Wendy's turned into memorial for Rayshard Brooks gunned down by white cop

Atlanta Wendy’s turned into memorial for Rayshard Brooks gunned down by white cop. | Photo: AFP


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