Mourners at historic church re・・・
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- Mourners at historic church remember Rayshard Brooks, Black man shot by Atlanta police
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Date:JUNE 23, 2020 With tears, some laughter and memories of a generous young man, more than 200 friends and family members filled the pews of an historic Atlanta church on Tuesday (June 23) for the funeral of Rayshard Brooks.
The death of Brooks, a Black man who was shot twice in the back by Atlanta police outside of a fast-food restaurant on June 12, heightened tensions over police brutality and racism that have raged since the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Mourners at the Ebenezer Baptist Church also called for an end to police brutality and racism so that Brooks' death would not be in vain.
All wearing masks because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, those in attendance sat mostly together in the center of the cavernous church, which limited attendance to allow for some measure of social distancing. Dressed in white, Brooks' widow, Tomika Miller, sat in the front pew with her daughter on her lap.
While a time for mourning, the church also billed the service as a celebration of his life and The Martin Luther King, Sr. Choir performed.
Ambrea Mikolajczyk, a colleague and friend, described Brooks as a loving family man who was always looking out for others in the community.
"He radiated such a bright light that regardless of the cowardly act that took his life, his light will never be dim. He will continue to shine so bright, even in his absence," Mikolajczyk said.
Some police supporters have called the shooting justified, citing video appearing to show Brooks firing a Taser at an officer before being shot. But his death nevertheless set off a wave of protests in Atlanta, breathing new life into historic, nationwide demonstrations following Floyd's death.
The site of the funeral was a testament to the gravity of the moment. Ebenezer Baptist was where Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the Black civil rights movement, once preached until his assassination in 1968.
King's daughter, Bernice King, implored demonstrators to keep marching "until white supremacist policies and practices are no longer the order of the day", and called for the payment of reparations to African Americans to atone for slavery.
"Rayshard Brooks' death will not be in vain because justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream," she said, invoking a line from her father's "I Have a Dream" speech at the August 1963 March on Washington.
Paul Howard, the Fulton County District Attorney, has pursued the case aggressively, arguing that Brooks was not a threat even as he ran away with a Taser stun gun he had taken from one of the officers during an attempted arrest.
The Atlanta police officer who shot Brooks, Garrett Rolfe, 27, was fired and charged with murder. A second officer, Devin Brosnan, 26, was placed on administrative duty and charged with aggravated assault. The city's police chief resigned.
After a service of more than two hours, Brooks' body in his gold-colored casket was escorted out of the church for its journey to a nearby graveyard. On the way, it drove past the charred Wendy's restaurant outside of which he died.
(Production: Arlene Eiras) (Caption:2188WD-MINNEAPOLIS-POLICE_ATLANTA_FUNERAL)
VARIOUS OF SPEAKERS AND CHURCH OFFICIALS PAYING THEIR RESPECTS TO BROOKS' FAMILY
VARIOUS OF PALLBEARERS CARRYING BROOKS' COFFIN, COVERED WITH FLOWERS, DOWN CENTER AISLE WITH MUSIC PLAYING
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