ATLANTA — Sunday marks two years since Rayshard Brooks' death at a southwest Atlanta Wendy's parking lot. Activists, friends, and the community held a vigil at the spot police shot and killed him.
Organizers hoped to show their support for Brooks' family, push for his case to be heard in front of a Grand Jury, and plea for the community to solve their problems in non-violent ways.
Brooks' family wasn't at the afternoon vigil, but those who gathered for it still wanted to show them they care.
“We would like to mark the 2nd annual memorial for Rayshard Brooks," Garry Stokes said. “I am out here in solidarity with the community.”
Garry Stokes, the leader of the National African-American Nation, joined several other dozen people to remember the 27-year-old husband and father on the 2nd anniversary of his death.
“It’s sickening," Stokes said. "I wake up a lot of mornings where I just want to go on Facebook and Instagram, and really rant and really rave about what’s going on in our community.”
“It has to stop. A lot of people are hurting. A lot of people have been affected by gun violence," Aaliyah Strong said.
Aaliyah Strong knows all too well the effects of gun violence. Her fiancé, Tyshon Ross, was shot and killed while working as a security guard at a Hookah bar earlier this year.
“I’m just tired of all the gun violence from police, with each other, and we just really need a change," Strong said. "I want to be that voice of change.”
Brooks died in a southwest Atlanta Wendy's parking lot on June 12, 2020. Investigators said Brooks fell asleep in the Wendy's drive-through lane.
Atlanta Police arrived and spoke to him for more than half an hour but said things went downhill when officers attempted to arrest Brooks. Brooks grabbed an officer's taser and ran, and an officer shot him two times in the back as he ran away from them, while firing the taser, according to investigators.
"The family wants to continue hearing his name. They’re very specific. Keep saying his name, and they want to do more than just say his name. They want a peace center, they want to see us, and they want the City of Atlanta to remember Rayshard Brooks," Atlanta Councilman Antonio Lewis said.
A sign honoring Brooks, balloons, and flowers line the fence, where the Wendy's parking lot was. The smell of burning sage filled the air as the community joined together and called for action in Brooks' death.
“We’d like to see the officers who’ve already been charged brought before a Grand Jury, indicted, and then ultimately get to a trial to determine what actually happened out here. For it to take for years when there’s other high-profile cases like George Floyd that have been resolved, it’s a little bit disheartening in Atlanta that we can’t get to justice," Gerald Griggs said, president of the Georgia NAACP.
The two officers charged in Brooks' death announced earlier in the week they'll file a federal lawsuit alleging they were falsely arrested, and their constitutional rights were violated.