is an Irish journalist, commentator, and writer at RT. Previously based in Amsterdam, he wrote for DutchNews and a scatter of local and national newspapers.
Rayshard Brooks apparently was drunk, resisted arrest, and took a cop’s taser. He lost his life for this, and the officer involved has been thrown under the bus by his superiors and fired. Is this justice, or mob rule?
Rayshard Brooks fell asleep at a Wendy’s drive-through in Atlanta on Friday night, reportedly prompting staff to call the police. After failing a sobriety test, Brooks resisted arrest, stole a taser from an officer, and fled. He was fatally shot by Officer Garrett Rolfe after he fired the stolen taser at police, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation claims.
Were the country not already consumed with race-infused riots, Brooks’ death would likely be another statistic. An unfortunate incident, a local news story for the weekend.
But coming three weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it set off another wave of rage. Rioters torched the Wendy’s, whose staff dared to call the police. Rolfe was fired, and his partner was placed on administrative leave. Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, under pressure from the NAACP, resigned “because of her desire that Atlanta be a model of what meaningful reform should look like across this country.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether Rolfe’s use of lethal force was justified, but the court of public opinion has already ruled against him. In addition to Rolfe’s firing and Shields’ resignation, news outlets have run eulogies to the 27-year-old father of four, who CNN said was planning on “celebrating his daughter’s birthday” on Saturday morning.
His funeral will likely be spun into another slice of television melodrama in the style of George Floyd’s, who was only laid to rest after his gold-encrusted coffin travelled America like the reliquary of some modern-day saint. Yet had Floyd not died and a narrative not been established, it’s hard to say how many people would know Brooks’ name and mourn his fate.
For example, have you ever heard of Albert Lee Hughes? Like Brooks, Hughes showed up drunk at a Wendy’s in Atlanta in January. When staff called police, he argued with the officers and began attacking them with a chair. After the shock from a taser failed to subdue Hughes, officers fatally shot him.
Or how about Jamie Lamar Darley? When police responded to a domestic violence call in April, Darley – a white man – fled the scene brandishing a firearm. A high-speed pursuit ensued, and Darley was shot dead after he pointed the weapon at a pair of deputies.
Yassin Mohammed met with a similar fate last month. After several encounters with law enforcement in one day, Mohammed eventually snapped, charging at a deputy and pelting him with rocks. The lawman fired back and killed him.
These are just three of the 15 fatal police shootings in Georgia so far this year. None of these victims had fast food joints burned down in their honor, though, and investigations were carried out before any officers were punished.
However, in the aftermath of Floyd’s killing, justice has been stripped of all nuance and boiled down to black and white – literally. Brooks’ death has not been evaluated on its own grounds, but has instead been portrayed as another George Floyd or Eric Garner-style murder, based solely on the fact that the shooter was a police officer. The victim’s attempts to disarm and disable the officers involved were deemed irrelevant to the mob, who chanted his name as the Wendy’s went up in flames on Saturday night.
The mob is in charge, and Shields’ resignation – as well as Rolfe’s dismissal before any investigation conclusions have been drawn – shows deference before them. The arson attack on the Wendy’s also serves as a warning to anyone who still thinks of calling 911 when they’ve got a problem. “Snitches get stitches” is the message, loud and clear.
Hell will freeze over before Black Lives Matter condemns a single act of rioting, arson, or looting as long as it’s even tangentially connected to Floyd’s death. The organization will stay silent on the Atlanta arson attack, too, even if the Georgia Bureau of Investigation clears Rolfe of all misconduct. The ‘bad cop’ narrative is too important, and in BLM’s ideal world, Brooks would be free today – drunk-driving and armed with a stolen police taser, rule of law be damned.