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Plea for police reform in the US after another black man is shot dead

19 June 2020

Alex Hicks Jr/USA TODAY NETWORK/PA

Protesters march from Wendy’s restaurant, in Atlanta, on Sunday, in response to the killing of Rayshard Brooks

Protesters march from Wendy’s restaurant, in Atlanta, on Sunday, in response to the killing of Rayshard Brooks

“HOW high do the bodies need to pile up before the United States acts on police reform?” a bishop in the US has asked, in a statement after the death of another black man at the hands of police.

The man, Rayshard Brooks, aged 27, was shot dead by police in Atlanta last Friday. He had fallen asleep in his car, blocking access to a drive-through Wendy’s restaurant, and, after a scuffle, he ran away and was shot twice in the back. Atlanta’s police chief has resigned, and one of the officers has been dismissed. Charges are pending.

The first African American Bishop of Atlanta, the Rt Revd Rob Wright, released a statement after Mr Brooks’s killing, saying that his heart broke with “with every telling and retelling of the unjust killing of our nation’s Black citizens.

“For those who dismiss the call for reform in our policing as mere politics, exactly how high does the stack of bodies need to pile up before you lend your voice and strength for change?

“From the founding of our country we have had a white supremacy problem. When we are killed like dogs in the street, we are told to be patient and that justice will prevail, except justice, in these instances, has been the exception and not the rule.”

The death of Mr Brooks prompted further protests in Atlanta against racial injustice and police brutality. The restaurant where the shooting happened was burned to the ground.

Mr Brooks’s family have called for murder charges to be brought against the two officers involved, and an overhaul of the police department.

The Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, said that she was signing a series of orders examining the police department’s policies on the use of force. “It is clear that we do not have another day, another minute, another hour to waste,” she said.

Bishop Wright said that he stood alongside the Mayor in the “hard work of helping Atlanta and our nation to reimagine policing”.

On Thursday, a former police officer, Garrett Rolfe, who has already been dismissed from the Atlanta police, was charged with murder. The other officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, will testify as a prosecution witness in the case, officials said. Mr Rolfe faces 11 charges relating to Mr Brooks’s death. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

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