I am writing in response to the column that appeared in Friday’s Tribune by Mr. Primus Mootry, “People Act on Implicit Bias.” In writing about the death of Rayshard Brooks at the Wendy’s in Atlanta, Mr. Mootry criticized the staff at Wendy’s for not trying to wake Mr. Brooks as he slept in his car, blocking the drive-thru.
Mr. Mootry was obviously unaware that the 911 call has been played numerous times on cable television and is also widely available online. The Wendy’s manager, a young African-American woman, plainly told the 911 operator that she had knocked on the window of his car, and when he awoke she asked him to please pull over in the parking lot where he was welcome to “sleep it off.” She stated that he ignored her and went back to sleep.
This was a busy Friday night at approximately 10:30 pm. The drive-thru was packed with cars and customers were attempting to drive around Mr. Brook’s vehicle, creating a hazard. What else would any restaurant manager do? Mr. Brooks alone is responsible for having the police called on him. To put the blame for this on Wendy’s staff is extremely unfair.
Unfortunately for the Wendy’s staff, the restaurant was burned to the ground within 24 hours of Mr. Brook’s death. Employees were lucky to escape without injury. The prime suspect is a white woman named Natalie White. Coincidentally, Brooks can be heard on the bodycam video telling the two police officers that a woman named Natalie White was his girlfriend.
According to Fire Chief Randall Slaughter, about 60 firefighters were on the scene to fight the fire, but units were blocked by protesters throwing bricks and other objects as the crews tried to put out the flames. Atlanta Mayor Bottoms commented that this southwest area of Atlanta is a “food desert” with very few restaurants, and Wendy’s will be missed by the area residents. The owner of the Wendy’s has graciously promised that employees will continue to receive their pay for the near future.
The death of Rayshard Brook was tragic indeed. He was only 27 years old, married with three daughters and a teenage stepson. He had worked restoring older homes and by all accounts was a very hard worker and a good guy. But he had had prior run-ins with the law and was currently on probation, which may explain why he tried to run from the police.
What is also tragic is the offensive attitude Mr. Mootry has taken about all members of law enforcement, unfairly painting all police with the same broad brush. Statements like, “So, I don’t want to hear anymore about how there are good cops and a few bad apples among them” and “I don’t want to hear an officer involved in a shooting say, ‘I feared for my life’” are blatantly unfair and unwarranted. TALK ABOUT IMPLICIT BIAS!
Like most people, I think this could have been handled differently. But then I am viewing it from over 400 miles away in the comfort and safety of my own living room, the same as everyone else. It is easy to play armchair quarterback when it is not your personal safety or your life on the line and you only have a split second to react. Let’s let it play out in the court where all the facts can come out and be examined before convicting these officers in the press. At this point there is no evidence whatsoever that this incident had anything to do with race. This is not the same situation as the horrific killing in Minneapolis.
The violence against police officers in this country continues to rise at an alarming rate, from outright murders, ambushes, and injuries. Things are at a boiling point right now. Statements and attitudes like Mr. Mootry’s only add fuel to the fire.
As stated before: Of course, black lives matter. Without a doubt. But so do blue lives. So do all lives.
Beth Barker, Jeffersonville