Rayshard Brooks: Hundreds of demonstrators march in Atlanta for criminal justice reform

ATLANTA — Up to 800 people, including the Atlanta Hawks’ head coach, joined the NAACP Monday to march in downtown Atlanta to address police brutality, the criminal justice system and voting rights.

The March for Justice peaceful protest began at 9 a.m. Monday at The Richard B. Russell Federal Building and they marched to the State Capitol.

Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston reported from the march throughout the day. The marchers came with signs and loud voices, demanding changes from police departments to Georgia’s voting system.

On primary election day, precincts saw voters frustrated as they waited for hours in lines.

“We’re committed to making State Farm Arena a polling place by our organization, so Fulton County and DeKalb County and every citizen has a right to vote in this city,” Hawks coach said.

The deaths of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor also weighed heavy on the hearts and minds of the marchers.

Latisha Cunningham said she marched Monday for her children.

“Every time it happens, I have to have a different talk with my child. This is not the world, it’s not the America I want to raise my child in," she said.

Cunningham told Huddleston seeing a cross section of America - black, white, brown- people all marching together that she prays can and will be better for her son.

“I think there’s a little more hope now.”

Christina Cantinella says she brought her two sons because she is tired of acting like racism doesn’t exist.

“This is our problem, our ancestors unfortunately and we participated in it for hundreds of years and I’m done. I think it’s important for them to be right out here too,” she said.

Organizers said marching is only part of the movement and they will continue to speak to lawmakers about changing legislation and also encouraging people to vote.

Before today’s march, the NAACP and Just Georgia Coalition held a virtual news conference over the weekend.

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned Saturday following the deadly police shooting of Rayshard Brooks, but the NAACP is demanding that Shields be completely removed from the police department and no longer be an employee.

Both groups said now is the opportunity to listen to protesters in the streets who are demanding change.

[Minute-by-minute: Officer who shot Rayshard Brooks has been fired]

“We are asking and demanding urgent action so that we can move forward as a city, community and as a state to ensure that no other family has to go through what Mr. Brooks’ family has to go through," said Rev. James “Major” Woodall, state president of the Georgia NAACP.

Many speakers said this isn’t just a moment, it’s a movement that doesn’t stop when the protests end, it will continue for months to come.

“We are sick and tired of every week having different hashtags for innocent black lives. We are sick and tired that in Georgia, you can get killed simply for jogging,” said Jamal Bryant Sr., Pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an administrative order for an advisory council made up of community members to examine the city’s use of force policies and procedures. They will make recommendations for operational or legislative changes to the city’s existing use of force policies.

[APD releases body camera footage from deadly Wendy’s shooting]

Civil rights and criminal defense attorney Tiffany Roberts believes there has to be a transformational cultural shift within the Atlanta police department.

[Autopsy reveals Rayshard Brooks died from two gunshot wounds to the back]

“We have to move past this belief that training is the issue that causes the systemic harm in our communities. We have some information that the officer involved with Mr. Brooks had been trained on use of force and had been trained on de-escalation, so there is no training regime that can undo a toxic culture,” Roberts said.

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