Atlanta, GA – People who live near the burned-out Wendy’s that has become a makeshift memorial for 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks have asked the police to help them because they’re unable to get to their homes safely and have been threatened and harassed.
Police responded to three emergency calls near the former fast food restaurant rioters burned to the ground the night after Brooks was fatally shot by police, WXIA reported.
At least one protester was shot during an exchange of gunfire in that area last Friday night, but then violent protesters physically assaulted police who responded to clear the area for paramedics to get in.
Residents have reported that armed protesters have blocked them from getting to their homes, WXIA reported. Several have had their homes and vehicles vandalized.
Kimberlee Jones, who lives about a mile from the Wendy’s, said her mother tried to visit the other day and was stopped by protesters who had set up a roadblock on University Avenue, WXIA reported.
“They wouldn’t let her through and she felt intimidated,” Jones said.
Jones, who is president of the South Atlanta Civic League neighborhood association, said the violent group blocking her neighborhood aren’t protesters, WXIA reported.
“My husband literally just missed getting caught in the crossfire when he was on his way home,” she told WXIA. “And people have been shot and have been hurt.”
Jones said she calls the memorial a “flea market” because there are people camping and selling things.
Jennifer Edwards told WXIA somebody smashed a large rock through her windshield after they trapped her when she tried to cross through the area.
“They all had guns. They were all brandishing the guns to me from their waistbands,” Edwards said. “And that they were going to shoot me in the back of the head if I did get away.”
She said the man who smashed the rock through her windshield wasn’t done after that, prompting her to hit the gas and flee, WXIA reported.
“The guy took his gun out of his waistband and started to point it at me,” Edwards recalled. “I didn’t care, I just went around him. If I hit him, if I bumped him, sorry. I have to get away with my life.”
Jones said she’s talked to the Atlanta police but they said they were keeping officers away from the Wendy’s out of fear their presence would escalate the situation, WXIA reported.
Police advised those who lived in the area to stay away from the makeshift memorial for Brooks.
“He [the police officer] asked people to stay away because, I’ll use his term, the crowd has been hostile to a certain extent,” Jones said. “He said that they are aware of what’s going on, but they don’t want to add fuel to the fire; to escalate things. So their advice is to stay out of that area.”
But people who actually live there don’t have the option to avoid it.
“It’s physically draining, trying to figure out ways to get home, and it’s emotionally draining dealing with the upheaval and the noise and the explosions,” Jones told WXIA. “It’s an emotional drain.”
The shooting that sparked the protest and eventual arson of Wendy’s occurred after officers responded to a call for a man asleep in the Wendy’s drive-thru late on June 12.
Officers administered a field sobriety test and established probable cause to arrest Brooks, but when they went to put the suspect in handcuffs, the previously-calm man attacked them.
Brooks stole Atlanta Police Officer Devin Brosnan’s Taser, tased the officer, and then fled with the weapon in hand.
Former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe pursued Brooks on foot with his own Taser in hand, until Brooks turned back and fired his Taser at Officer Rolfe.
That’s when Officer Rolfe dropped his Taser, drew his pistol, and fatally shot Brooks.
On June 17, Howard held a press conference to announce he was charging former Officer Rolfe with murder for the fatal shooting of Brooks after Brooks discharged Officer Brosnan’s Taser at Officer Rolfe.
The district attorney also announced at his press conference on June 17 that Officer Brosnan was facing three felony charges.
Atlanta police officers began calling in “sick” after charges against the officers were announced.
The police department and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tried to cover up the officer shortage and denied rumors of “Blue Flu” plaguing their city’s officers.
But Atlanta police officers and International Brotherhood of Police Southeast Regional Director Vince Champion told The Police Tribune that rumors of the walkout were all true.
Tens of thousands of people tuned into the police department’s scanner frequency to listen to hours of silence.
Champion told The Police Tribune Thursday that more than 500 of Atlanta’s 911 calls went unanswered overnight.
And a roll call assignment sheet leaked out indicating the extent of the “Blue Flu.”