ATLANTA — In impassioned remarks at the funeral of Rayshard Brooks, Bernice King said "Atlanta is being called to task now to respond to the age old racism virus" and called for continued action "until Black lives matter" across the world.
King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., said Brooks' death showed that even Atlanta, a city famed for Black empowerment, "is not immune to the problem of systemic and structural racism."
Brooks was shot and killed on June 12 by an Atlanta officer as he ran with an officer's taser following a suspected DUI stop. The killing set off a wave of anguish in the city, body cam video showing it unfolded suddenly as officers tried to arrest the father of four after what had appeared to have been a largely calm and cordial interaction.
Activists have said it could have been avoided, and highlights issues with overpolicing and the probation system, which Brooks talked openly about in a past interview.
The two officers involved have been charged, including felony murder for the one who shot Brooks.
At his funeral, King echoed those themes.
"We really should not be here today, this did not have to happen to Rayshard," King said. "There are so many ways that Friday, June 12 could have ended, and a police killing did not have to be one of them."
She said what was "especially troubling about this killing of an unarmed man is that this time it hit our home base."
"This happened in Atlanta, the city that is supposed to be too busy to hate," King said. "The city that is the home to civil and human rights. This happened in the city that has been known as the black Mecca. This happened in the city whose grounds are known for America and the world's 'warrior of peace,' my daddy Martin Luther King, Jr., who taught us that true peace is not merely the absence of tension but it is the presence of justice. Therefore there can be no peace in Atlanta, nor anywhere in our nation where there is no justice."
"No justice, no peace," she added, hearkening the popular call that has rang out on streets throughout the country these last weeks since the death of George Floyd.
King evoked the year enslaved Africans were first brought to the American colonies - 1619, saying Atlanta "is being called to task now to respond to the age old racism virus - COVID-1619."
"This time the answer is not more diversity and inclusion. It's now time for Black Lives Matter," she said.
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