Atlanta mayor decries violence at protest site: ‘You shot and killed a baby’
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) demanded an end to violence in the city after an 8-year-old girl was fatally shot near a Wendy’s restaurant that was the site of a police killing that helped fuel escalating tensions in the region.
“We are shooting each other up on our streets in this city. And you shot and killed a baby,” Bottoms said during a press conference on Sunday. “And there wasn’t one shooter, there were at least two shooters. An 8-year-old baby. We are doing each other more harm than any police officer on this force.”
The comments from Bottoms arrived after officials confirmed the death of Secoriea Turner, an 8-year-old girl who was shot and killed on Saturday while sitting in a car across the street from a Wendy’s parking lot. Turner was shot as a driver attempted to park where a group of people had placed illegal barriers, according to CNN.
Mayor Bottoms & Interim Chief Bryant speak on 8-year-old murdered over the holiday weekend. https://t.co/iCjls5QC47
— Atlanta Police Department (@Atlanta_Police) July 5, 2020
The Wendy’s parking lot was the site of the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks in June. Brooks, a 27-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by an officer after police responded to a complaint that a man was lying in his car asleep in the restaurant’s drive-thru.
The shooting of Brooks led Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields to resign. Garrett Rolfe, the officer who fatally shot Brooks, was also immediately fired and is now facing a felony murder charge. Devin Brosnan, the other officer involved in the incident, has also been charged with aggravated assault.
Protests have gone on for weeks in the area in and around the Wendy’s parking lot where the shooting took place. The restaurant was set ablaze just a day after the incident. Bottoms said that the protests have coincided with an uptick in violence, noting that the city has reported more than 75 shootings over the past several weeks.
“We talk a lot about what we are demanding from our officers,” she said. “Now we are demanding action for Secoria Turner and for all of the other people who were shot in Atlanta last night and over the past few weeks because the reality is this: These aren’t police officers shooting people on the streets. These are members of the community shooting each other.”
“Enough is enough,” she added. “You can’t blame this on a police officer. You can’t say this is about criminal justice reform. This is about some people carrying some weapons who shot up a car with an 8-year-old baby in the car. For what?”
Bottoms noted that the city has experienced challenges since Brooks’s death, with demonstrators placing barriers near the Wendy’s restaurant to close off roads. She said she received reports that the barriers were positioned in the area just before getting a message that a young girl had been fatally shot.
The mayor also called out people who have been seen openly carrying firearms in the area. She noted that Georgia law allows this behavior, calling it “sad” that they can walk around with weapons down the city’s streets.
She called on protesters to take it upon themselves to ensure protests remain peaceful, saying that “if you are a part of a protest or demonstration that looks like it’s going the wrong way, that’s your time to pull back because you’re no longer a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.”
The day of the press conference the Atlanta Police Department reported another fatal shooting near the Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was killed. Officers found a 53-year-old man who had been shot and killed on the scene. Two other victims were injured and transported to the hospital, Atlanta Police Public Information Officer John Chafee told CNN.
The police have also announced a $10,000 reward for information related to the suspects in the shooting of Turner, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. The notice said that one of the suspects is believed to have been wearing all black, while a second was wearing a white T-shirt.
“If you know who is out there … you cannot be silent. Your silence will not protect you,” Bottoms said.