Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Yes, its my second blog post and I'm talking about this, and I'm going to make some people mad. I'm speaking about Rayshard Brooks without having a blog entry focusing on George Floyd because the shooting in Atlanta was more sophisticated than Minneapolis. Minneapolis should have been clear to everyone, I can't really say anything that seeing it wouldn't already be abundantly obvious. This was inappropriate behavior (Especially for police), this was fueled by racism, this is a systemic issue. Between the two events, what I'm disturbed by is the thinly veiled prejudice represented by the silence of so many on social media who then immediately use Brooks's death as a way to justify all past and future police shootings.
Rayshard Brooks of Atlanta may not clearly illustrate issues of police brutality and systematic racism the way George Floyd did. It actually makes more issues clear, but I understand why this is going to have to be explained to some.
I wont suggest specific policy changes that I feel should be implemented, I wont even suggest examples, I'll simply point out the details of this interaction that represent normal police behaviors that are clearly detrimental to society. I've watched the entirety of the interaction, its over 40 minutes long, it portrays everything from first contact between police and Brooks to the moment he was killed, I'll include a link to Body Cam footage.
Some of these points will seem extreme despite the fact that this type of policing is VERY abnormal in the rest of the world, but let me start:
A man falls asleep in his car in a Wendy's drive thru and the response is to send several men with guns to confront him. People were able to drive around him, the car was in park. This wasn't an urgent matter, this certainly was not actively dangerous to the people around him. In what world do we say ,"There's a guy sleeping.. better get guys with guns in case we need to shoot him". Does law enforcement have such an abundance of resources that they can afford to send three men and two cruisers to handle *checks notes* man sleeping. The immediate assumption is that this must be a criminal issue, despite the fact that someone passed out in their car should more than likely be considered a medical issue. What happens after this is irrelevant to the point that police respond to things where police presence is not appropriate, especially since their presence is easily the only reason this situation escalated the way it did.
So what happens next is a relatively friendly, professional and courteous exchange between the officers and a man who is clearly inebriated. Two officers made initial contact and a third came several minutes later to conduct sobriety exams. Brooks offers to walk home multiple times and there's not really any proof that he was actually driving while intoxicated. But police did not allow Brooks to make his way home at this point. Is drinking and driving dangerous and irresponsible, yes. Are many, MANY of the same people justifying Brooks's death also guilty of drinking and driving, YES. If the police actually exist to serve and protect then at that point why wouldn't they offer this man the benefit of the doubt and help him get home, instead, using all this time and money to make sure they throw as many people in a cage as possible.
Then, after a long, repetitive and pointless exchange, the third officer conducting the sobriety exam attempts to make the arrest. Brooks tries to flee, ends up on the ground wrestling with 2 or 3 officers. Eventually, he takes a taser from one of the officers and runs across the parking lot, turning and discharging the weapon towards an officer who was pursuing him. The officer immediately switches from his taser (Which he already had un-holstered) to his pistol and fires, striking Brooks in the back multiple times. Okay, you've probably already seen this, you don't need me to break it down for you. What I see is a man desperately fighting for his life weeks after another unarmed black man was handcuffed and then choked to death for a crime he didn't commit.
Aside from the very real and looming fear "If I let them, they might kill me". The penal system in the United States does not seem to be effective in preventing crime, and certainly does not rehabilitate offenders. It does, however, create an environment of fear and desperation that would drive someone to fight for their life rather than just dealing with the consequences. An acquaintance of mine was charged with his third DUI in five years, he never found out what his sentence would be, he only knew that it would be so extreme that he would rather be dead than face it.... So he committed suicide. Had Rayshard Brooks made it to jail that night, what most likely would have happened was spending the night in a CAGE (I can not stress enough how ridiculous this is for non-violent offenders) with other DUI offenders, also known as a drunk tank. From there he would await trial in captivity, which in a major city could take several days maybe even weeks if he can't afford bail, which would probably be upwards of $1000. This means Rayshard would almost certainly lose his job, would not be able to take care of his wife and kids, and could lose so much income as to face eviction, foreclosure and/or repossession of say, his car. Once he finally stands before a Judge, in Georgia he has to pay a minimum of a $300 fine and assuming its his first offense could very well be sentenced to 10 days in jail. This is obviously going to prevent him from paying his fine, since he's already lost his job, maybe his house and his car. And if he's not able to make payments, as well as the numerous fees that many states implement on top of penalties he will be arrested for "Failure to Appear" and thrown back in a cage to wait AGAIN for another trial where he will be shaken down for more money.
But, let's not forget. Rayshard Brooks didn't go through this shit storm of a process, he was executed on site. His crimes were driving under the influence of alcohol and resisting arrest, in the state of Georgia this offense would not be considered punishable by the death penalty. I'm absolutely flabbergasted that I have to explain to people that it is not acceptable to execute a human being lacking even due process. It is more disturbing that people will refuse to see the glaring institutional issues that cause this to happen in the first place.