Atlanta protests: Residents rally at Wendy’s where officer shot Rayshard Brooks

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Atlanta residents are gathering around the city Monday evening to protest racism and police brutality.

Over the last two weeks, demonstrators have pushed for police reform and justice for black people killed by police. The calls for change have only grown since Friday, when Rayshard Brooks died after being shot by an Atlanta police officer.

Here are minute-by-minute updates on Monday’s protests from AJC reporters and photographers on the scene:

8 p.m.: About 100 people weathered the rain outside the Atlanta Wendy's that had become the gathering spot for people to voice their frustrations over the death of Rayshard Brooks. A man was singing on a karaoke machine as people made speeches in the parking lot. Two people were staging a die-in at the spot where Brooks collapsed after being shot by police.

Lee Jenkins, senior pastor at Eagles Nest Church in Alpharetta, stood outside the Wendy's on University Avenue taking pictures and shooting video of the building's charred remains. Jenkins said he lived in the area until he was about 13.

“Anger, outrage and heartbreak,” he said, describing his feelings on the events that led to the burned out building. “These kind of things have been happening here for decades, especially in this community.”

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

He described Peoplestown, the neighborhood where the restaurant is located, inhabited by proud black people, mostly low- to middle-class, struggling with the onset of gentrification. The difference between crimes that have taken place in the neighborhood previously is that they weren't caught on tape.

"I'm glad we have body cams and these to prove it now," he said, holding up his phone.

Locations for several other events planned to denounce police brutality were devoid of crowds Monday evening, likely washed away by late-afternoon rains.

About five miles north of the Wendy’s, Jennifer Senneff, 38, and her daughter Skylar, 17, joined protesters outside Centennial Olympic Park. The Forsyth County mother has also been at protests in metro Atlanta, including in Cumming and Johns Creek, protesting police brutality against black people for the past few weeks.

“We want to make change. I want the world to be better for my daughter,” Jennifer Senneff said. Like many metro Atlantans, Senneff said she was upset with how Atlanta police interacted with Rayshard Brooks.

“The cop was argumentative the entire time with him,” she said. “Cops are supposed to deescalate the situation, not escalate them. That’s all they did the entire time. They knew he didn’t have any guns or weapons on him. He took a Taser and that’s cause to shoot him? That was just wrong.”

7 p.m.: The crowd grew at the protest outside Centennial Olympic Park.

6 p.m.: The group downtown formed a solidarity line outside Centennial Olympic Park. Organizer Hannah Joy Gebresilassie said they have held peaceful protesters at the park for 17 days.

“Our goal is to fight against police brutality and unjust violence,” Gebresilassie said. “Enough is enough. We’re going to stand here until we see justice. So, if we have to stand here 365 days, we’re ready to do that.”

5:30 p.m.: A couple hundred yards down University Avenue from the Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was killed Friday night, new signs adorn the building at R&R Tire Service: "Black owned."

William Williams, who said his father owns the business, said as tensions continue to flare over Brooks’ death, they wanted to do whatever they could to help keep their building safe.

“All of that could have been saved,” he said, glancing down the street at businesses boarded up from the weekend’s activities. “But you have a mayor trying to get votes and move up.”

Mayor Bottoms is said to be on a short list to join former Vice President Joe Biden on the Democratic presidential ticket.

In front of the Olympic rings downtown, Brittany Jones-Chukura, 27, a volunteer with the Promote Positivity Movement, said Brooks’ death left her frustrated and unsettled. “I get that he was drunk, but he was trying to negotiate with (the police).”

Jones-Chukura said she wasn’t surprised by some decided to burn down the Wendy’s where Brooks was killed, adding that people are growing frustrated with the ongoing instances of police brutality.

5 p.m.: Downpours in Atlanta put a hold on a planned protest at Centennial Olympic Park.

4 p.m.: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms held a press conference and announced she is signing a series of orders related to police reforms and use-of-force policies.

“It is clear that we do not have another day, another minute, another hour to waste,” Bottoms said.

Hundreds also gathered Monday afternoon at the Wendy’s on University Avenue, where Brooks was shot. Many left flowers and signs.

Earlier, thousands marched from the Richard B. Russell Federal Building to the state Capitol on Monday, demanding new laws as the legislative session resumes. Various speakers addressed the crowd, urging lawmakers pass legislation ending immunity for police officers and citizen's arrest laws. Read more here.