Neighbors see change, others don’t as anniversary of Rayshard Brooks’ death nears

ATLANTA — Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police.

His death led to protests all across the city.

An Atlanta police officer shot Brooks to death in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant on University Avenue. A day later, someone set the restaurant on fire, burning it to the ground. What remains is now a fenced-in empty lot.

Some neighbors told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot that nothing has changed in the year since Brooks’ death. Others say everything changed.

Body camera video from June 2020 showed the moment Atlanta police officers interacted with Brooks after they found him asleep in his car.

When officers told him he’d had too much to drink to be driving and tried to handcuff him, Brooks resisted. A struggle was caught on dash camera video. Brooks grabbed one of their Tasers and fled, firing the Taser at one of the officers as he ran away.

That’s when the officer shot Brooks, killing him.

A day later, during protests of his death, someone set that restaurant on fire. It’s a demonstration, some said, of the anger and frustration in the neighborhoods around it.

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A year after the death of Brooks and the aftermath, Elliot spoke with neighbors in and around south Atlanta.

“It brought some changes. It really has. Some positive, some negative,” neighbor Douglas Lewis said.

Kimberly Dukes is the executive director of Atlanta Thrive, a community organization. She doesn’t feel like much has changed since that night.

“It was a tragedy. It’s sad. It let mothers know we have to hold our kids closer, but it also let the city know that Black and brown people have been treated unfairly for a long time,” Dukes said.

Carlton Brown said he was at the peaceful protests. He thinks some people have already moved on.

“In these situations, there’s a good uproar for a good month, a week, probably a couple of weeks or so, and then washes away as we progress to the next situation,” Brown said.

Douglas Lewis thinks Rayshard Brooks’ death drastically changed how residents see and deal with police. He hopes both sides can fix that.

“Unity between the community and the police, altogether. You got to pull together somewhere,” Lewis said.

It is unclear what’s going to become of the property, whether the owner will rebuild a new restaurant or it will be turned into a community center as some hope.

The trial for the officers involved is yet to come.