Atlanta, GA (AP) — Scores of mourners, some dressed all in white and others wearing Black Lives Matter shirts, gathered at the historic Atlanta church that was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s pulpit for a funeral Tuesday for the Black man whose killing by police in a fast-food parking lot stoked protests across the U.S. against racial injustice.
“We are here because individuals continue to hide behind badges and trainings and policies and procedures rather than regarding the humanity of others in general and Black lives specifically,” the Rev. Bernice King, the civil rights leader’s daughter, said at the private service at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
She noted ruefully that the killing took place in Atlanta, the “black mecca” and “the city that is supposed to be `too busy to hate.’”
But in a powerful echo of her father’s “I Have a Dream” speech, she declared: “Rayshard Brooks’ death will not be in vain because justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Among those at the service were Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller; Stacey Abrams, the former state lawmaker who has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden; and Jon Ossoff, a young Georgia media executive who broke fundraising records during an unsuccessful 2017 run for Congress, was also seen.
Some mourners wore T-shirts with Brooks’ picture. Nearly everyone wore masks against the coronavirus.
Brooks, 27, was shot twice in the back June 12 by Officer Garrett Rolfe after a struggle that erupted when police tried to handcuff him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru. Video showed Brooks snatching a police Taser and firing it at the white officer while running away.
Rolfe, 27, was charged with murder and jailed without bail. A second officer, Devin Brosnan, 26, was charged with aggravated assault, accused of stepping on Brooks’ shoulder as he lay dying on the pavement. Lawyers for both men said their clients’ actions were justified.
The killing unfolded amid protests and scattered violence set off around the country by the case of George Floyd, the Black man who was pronounced dead May 25 after a white Minneapolis put his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.
Atlanta’s police chief stepped down less than 24 hours after Brooks’ death, and the Wendy’s was burned by protesters.
While Brooks was not a member of Ebenezer Baptist, the church where King preached is a “sanctuary for those who suffer,” the Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor said in a statement announcing the funeral plans. Actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry offered financial help for the service, according to the statement.
Photo Caption: Tomika Miller, wife of Rayshard Brooks, holds their 2-year-old daughter Memory while pausing with her children during the family processional at his funeral in Ebenezer Baptist Church on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 in Atlanta. Brooks, 27, died June 12 after being shot by an officer in a Wendy’s parking lot. Brooks’ death sparked protests in Atlanta and around the country. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool)