Atlantans March Against Police Killings of Crutcher, Scott, Rogers, Robinson
(APN) ATLANTA — On Friday, September 23, 2016, approximately one thousand people gathered at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights at 100 Ivan Allen Boulevard for a rally, march, and sit-in to demand not one more Black body lost to the hands of the police in the United States.
The rally was in response to the recent shooting deaths of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina; and the shooting deaths of Caine Rogers and Jamarion Robinson this year in Atlanta.
The march was organized by The Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability that included dozens of organizations and was led by Georgia NAACP State President, Rev. Francys Johnson.
They marched through downtown Atlanta and stopped at the King Historical Center where Rev. Raphael Warnock, Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, spoke to the crowd.
“We are sick and tired of our sisters and brothers being killed for walking while Black, driving while Black, dealing with a stalled car while Black, holding a toy gun while Black, going to get some candy wearing a hoodie while Black. Black skin is not a crime,” Rev. Warnock said.
“Over the last 35 years politicians have gone into office, on both sides of the aisle, claiming they are going to be tough on crime. This terrible policy has led to the land of the free becoming the mass incarceration capital of the world. You don’t get to be the incarceration capitol of the world by [police] playing nice on the streets,” Rev. Warnock continued.
“Why are the police getting away with killing so many Black people?” Atlanta Progressive News asked Rev. Jeffery Benoit, President of National Action Network.
“The Federal Order of Police and all of that infrastructure protects them and leverages their legal bills much like Erik Wilson in St. Louis, Missouri; and George Zimmerman in Florida. These individuals, because they are killing Black men, are rewarded with Go Fund Me and various other funds,” Rev. Benoit said.
“We recently saw a bomber taken down by only wounding him and the police deescalated the situation. A Black man gets no de-escalation, they are murdered in cold blood in front of their family,” Benoit said.
Compare also the case of Dylann Roof, the Charleston church shooter who killed nine people: he was arrested without police firing a shot, and he was treated very gently.
The march continued to the Atlanta City Detention Center at 254 Peachtree Street.
The crowd yelled, “Shut it Down, No Justice No Peace!” and “Kasim, Where Are You?,” referring to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
“Where are you when it matters, when Black bodies are in the streets, when Black people are incarcerated by Operation Whiplash, when our neighborhoods are gentrified, when we need real economic development, where are you? We demand change now,” Marcus Coleman, President and Founder, National Action Network Atlanta Chapter, said.
Many activists criticize Operation Whiplash, a City initiative that puts more police in certain neighborhoods.
They believe the money could be better spent for summer jobs and more activities at recreation centers to offer opportunities for youth.
Two recent police killings in the Metro Atlanta area have continued to bring the issue close to home. Jamarion Robinson, 26; and Deravis Caine Rogers, 22, were killed by police this summer.
East Point Police fired over seventy times at Robinson, and deployed a flash-bang grenade in his apartment. It was like a scene from the movie, Bonnie and Clyde.
Robinson’s hands were almost shot off his body and he had over twenty gunshot wounds. He was not recognizable by his own relatives.
Rogers, yet another unarmed Black man, was killed when a police officer shot into his car. The officer was responding to a suspicious person call, but had no way of knowing if Rogers was the suspicious person.
In this case, the police officer has been indicted for felony murder and making a false statement.
“This is not about an accident or individual bias or prejudice. This is an organized war on the Black community. Even if you follow their orders, they still shoot you,” another speaker said.
Speakers talked about how the entire criminal justice system is infected with systemic institutional racism and needs to be shut down because it is designed to keep Black people down.
Because the institution is systemically racist, it does not matter whether an individual officer is White or Black, they said.
“We have been lynched, raped, burned, stolen, put in slavery, and now we are back to modern day lynching,” Benoit said.
Many want to see police who kill, be required to immediately take blood and urine tests, because many believe they are “doped up on cocaine and prescription drugs,” when they kill.
Attorney Tiffany Williams Roberts called for an economic boycott, and not just on Black Friday.
The march, which started at 6:00 p.m. at the Civil Rights Museum, ended at midnight at the Atlanta Detention Center.
Other protests hosted by Georgia NAACP were held in Columbus, Athens, Savannah, and Valdosta.
Other organizations held additional protests over the weekend in Atlanta.