Martin Luther King's daughter calls for justice at funeral of man shot by police

Bernice A. King speaks during the funeral of Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, Georgia, June 23, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

ATLANTA (AFP) - The daughter of US civil rights icon Martin Luther King called on Tuesday (June 23) for more pressure to ensure equal justice for African Americans as Rayshard Brooks, whose killing by an Atlanta policeman sparked angry protests, was buried in Atlanta.

"Rayshard Brooks' death will not be in vain," Bernice A King said at the funeral.

Brooks was shot dead on June 12 after being detained by police at a Wendy's fast-food restaurant.

"We cannot stop our cry for justice and our fight for freedom," she told Brooks' family, friends and supporters at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her father had been pastor.

"We cannot stop our demonstrations until our voices are heard and our demands for police reform are met."

The latest in a series of police killings of African Americans, Brooks, 27, was detained by Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan, who found him asleep in his car in the restaurant's drive-in line.

Over a calm 20-minute interaction, they gave him an alcohol test and, after it proved positive, sought to arrest him for driving under the influence.

After a brief struggle, Brooks ran off with one of the officers' Tasers, and Rolfe shot him twice in the back.

Rolfe was fired and charged with murder while Brosnan, who agreed to cooperate with the investigation, was charged with aggravated assault.

Atlanta District Attorney Paul Howard said Rolfe had no justification for shooting Brooks as he fled, and aggravated the case by kicking his body as he lay on the ground bleeding.

Brooks' shooting came less than three weeks after a Minneapolis police officer's killing of handcuffed African American George Floyd on May 25 fuelled a national uproar over racism and police brutality.

At the funeral, King called for a "revolution of values" across the country to end systematic racism.

"There can be no peace in Atlanta nor anywhere in our nation where there is no justice," she said.

"No justice, no peace," she added, repeating the chant of protesters around the country.

The chief pastor at the church, Raphael Warnock, said Brooks' fate was simply an extension of the record of racism against blacks since the first slaves arrived in the country in 1619.

"Rayshard Brooks is the latest high-profile casualty in the struggle for justice and a battle for the soul of America," he said.

Warnock, who is running for the US Senate, said African Americans were particular victims of an unforgiving justice system that combines mass incarceration with chronic police brutality.

"Rayshard Brooks wasn't just running from the police. He was running from a system that makes slaves out of people," he said.

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