Community demands change on one-year anniversary of killing of Rayshard Brooks

It’s been one year since the police killing of Rayshard Brooks sent shockwaves across Atlanta — and throughout the country.

Brooks was killed by an officer during a scuffle after he was found asleep in the Wendy’s drive-thru line. Days later, an arsonist set the Wendy’s on fire. After that, an armed protester shot and killed 8-year-old Secoriea Turner nearby.

After the devastating series of events, city leaders vowed there would be reforms.

On the anniversary of Brooks’ death, the ground where the Wendy’s used to stand remained caged off and unused, in a community unsatisfied with what has changed since.

"We don’t feel no safer, we don’t feel no better," said Columbus Ward, president of the Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation. "It’s all talk no action. The action hasn’t taken place yet, we’ve been through with the talk for years and years and years. We always react to something with talk but we never react with action."

Ethel Floyd, who has lived in the Peoplestown section of Atlanta for 57 years, said police-community relations had deteriorated, and Brooks’ killing was a boiling point.

"When Rayshard Brooks got shot down there, people were highly emotional about it. We had had enough," Floyd said. "Everybody’s talking about what the police departments gonna do, I haven’t seen no change. They are still running around here acting like they’re at the Gestapo."

Floyd said many of those wreaking havoc in the protests didn’t even live there, and it ended up making matters worse.

In April, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced plans to change how Atlanta cops are trained to improve de-escalation tactics and reduce violent crime.

Kimberlee Jones with the South Atlanta Civic League said that’s still not enough.

"There needs to be cultural training and I think there needs to be more community engagement," Jones said.

She added that the reinstatement of Officer Garrett Rolfe last month added salt to the wound.

"It continues to send a message that people can do things like this and really not have a lot of ramifications for it," Jones said.

All residents that Fox 5 spoke with said on top of the tragic deaths of Brooks and Turner, the absence of that Wendy’s left of hole in the community. It was one of the only options of food in the neighborhood, now gone.

Residents want to see the construction of a memorial and community center at the site of the Wendy’s, which could provide services and resources to the underserved neighborhood.

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