ATLANTA — People who live in the southwest Atlanta neighborhood where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed want to know what’s next after armed protesters continue to block the intersection at University Avenue and Pryor Street.
Channel 2′s Michael Seiden has learned several of the protesters in the group live in the neighborhood and believe police have abandoned them.
Some police officers told Seiden they’re nervous about going down there after a protester assaulted one of their fellow officers over the weekend.
Photos posted on social media show armed protesters setting up roadblocks at University Avenue and Pryor Road, forcing many drivers to turn around.
Fired Atlanta police Officer Garrett Rolfe shot and killed Brooks following a fight during a DUI arrest in the parking lot of the Wendy’s a little more than a week ago.
The group that has gathered there, which has refused to speak with the media, is now grabbing the attention of faith-based leaders in this southwest Atlanta community.
Executive pastor Curtney Mackey and his senior pastor Isaiah Waddy, of St. Paul AME Church, told Seiden they are encouraged by this movement.
“I am in favor of them opening up the roads. I believe that people, especially in this community should not be stopped from being able to peacefully protest and to travel and move about in this community,” Mackey said.
Both are calling for police reforms and an end to racial injustice. They’re also calling on their community to come together and lean on their faith.
“I think the faith leaders have always played a major part in Civil Rights. Rights period. The church has always been there when there has been turmoil between the citizens, the faith leaders, black, white, all communities have come together for the betterment of the community,” Waddy said.
It’s a community that witnessed another violent weekend. Two shootings resulted in injuries, including a woman hit by gunfire. A witness posted the frightening moments on Twitter.
We also saw a protester assault an Atlanta police officer after a man and woman claimed a mob of people stopped their car and attacked them as they tried to drive past the Wendy’s.
“It’s scary to have someone come after you like that. We take their side. We weren’t being disrespectful. We were just trying to get on the interstate. I was hit in the arms and the face and legs with the boulder,” one of the victims said.
The unrest in the streets has led to city leaders calling out police.
“Sad situation someone today and yesterday at Wendy’s that is blocked off by armed young men with long guns and pistols. All businesses surrounding are boarded. The tension is in the air and emotions are raw. Police are not in sight. Is this Atlanta? No! We must rise up!” City Council President Felicia Moore said on Twitter Monday.
Channel 2 Action News has been working to get answers. But so far, there is no official statement from the mayor’s office or the police department.
In the last 48 hours, multiple Atlanta police sources have told Seiden they patrol from a distance, which means they are cautious when they arrive at a scene.
Seiden has also learned that officers responding to University Avenue near the Wendy’s are now traveling in pairs.
Finally, officers are being careful because many are scared about getting prosecuted for doing their jobs.
“What do you find most troubling about this situation?” Seiden asked retired New York Police Department detective and ABC News law enforcement consultant Robert Boyce.
“I’d say the trouble with this anti-police movement across the country, police are really, and from what I understand in Atlanta, are outraged about how quickly this happened five days after this individual was hit with 11 counts,” Boyce said.
Boyce said he is keeping a close eye on Atlanta’s developing situation. He says in order to move forward as a city, everyone has to pitch in.
“It’s never just a police problem, but it’s a shared responsibility because that is how we do things in New York. You’re asking faith-based leaders to step up, as well as political leaders. Political leaders will not be the same as faith-based. Faith-based you can trust. Political leaders will look to seek some kind of advantage. Not everyone, but some will,” Boyce said.
Some people who live in the area of the Wendy’s have complained they can’t get home. Multiple sources within the Atlanta Police Department have told Seiden that there is a plan in the works to disperse the crowd at the Wendy’s, which could be implemented by the end of the week.
The pastors told Seiden they want to be involved in the plan.
Both pastors believe they can play key roles in police reform and really have the pulse of the neighborhood. But so far, the city hasn’t contacted them. They’re working to get a meeting.
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