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Atlanta erupts in protest after another black man dies at the hands of police

Atlanta has become the new epicenter of a growing campaign for racial justice. Thousands of protesters marched there after the fatal police shooting of Rayshard Brooks on Friday night. Meanwhile, pressure continues to build in Minneapolis for the city to overhaul its police department following the death of George Floyd, which sparked a national social movement. William Brangham reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Another death at the hands of police, new outcries across the country.

    The city of Atlanta is the newest focus tonight of the burgeoning campaign for racial justice.

    William Brangham begins our coverage.

  • William Brangham:

    Hundreds of protesters turned out in downtown Atlanta this morning, marching against police brutality and demanding change.

    The flash point was the fatal shooting three days ago of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, by a white police officer.

    Chassidy Evans is Brooks' niece.

  • Chassidy Evans:

    Not only are we hurt. We are angry. When does this stop? We are not only pleading for justice. We are pleading for change.

  • William Brangham:

    On Friday night, police answered a call that Brooks was asleep in his car in a Wendy's drive-through lane. What began as a calm encounter escalated when police tried to arrest Brooks for drunk driving.

    Brooks struggled and fought with the officers, then ran away with what appeared to be one of the officer's Taser guns. One of the officers shot him twice in the back.

    Atlanta's police chief, Erika Shields, resigned the day after the shooting. The officer who shot Brooks, Garrett Rolfe, has been fired. And the other officer at the scene, Devin Brosnan, has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

    Atlanta's district attorney said he will decide this week whether to file any criminal charges.

    Today, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said it's abundantly clear there is a need to review the rules and the training for how police use deadly force.

  • Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms:

    We do not have another day, another minute, another hour to waste. It's very clear that our police officers are to be guardians and not warriors within our communities.

  • William Brangham:

    Brooks' killing fueled new fury throughout the weekend, with thousands of people protesting in Atlanta and elsewhere.

  • Protester:

    People are done waiting for a change. And everybody is standing together. Everybody is walking. Everybody is making noise. We just want to be heard.

  • William Brangham:

    The Wendy's where Brooks was killed was torched on Friday night. But his widow, Tomika Miller, appealed today for an end to any violence.

  • Tomika Miller:

    And I just ask that, if you could just keep it as a peaceful protest, that would be wonderful, because we want to keep his name positive and great.

  • William Brangham:

    Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, the pressure is still building to dismantle the city's police department in the wake of George Floyd's killing three weeks ago, when a white officer pressed a knee to Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes.

    Yesterday, Democratic Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar insisted the Minneapolis Police Department needs a complete overhaul.

  • Rep. Ihan Omar, D-Minn.:

    You can't really reform a department that is rotten to the root. What you can do is rebuild.

  • William Brangham:

    Elsewhere, protesters in Seattle are still occupying a small part of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood, after police abandoned their precinct there a week ago in an effort to ease tensions. Storefronts are boarded up and covered in graffiti, and barricades mark the borders of the roughly six-block so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

    President Trump said today, if local officials won't retake the area, he will deploy the National Guard to do so.

    And in Southern California, the families of two young black men are demanding investigations after the two were found hanging from trees 50 miles apart in recent days. Both their deaths were initially ruled suicides, but relatives say they fear the men were lynched.

    Alex Villanueva is Los Angeles County sheriff.

  • Alex Villanueva:

    We will answer all the questions and we will get full closure to what happened here. I reached out to Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and they are now going to provide a monitor and review all of our investigation to make sure we didn't leave any rock unturned.

  • William Brangham:

    All this comes as the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva has announced plans to debate systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S. and elsewhere on Wednesday.

    Concerns about that brutality triggered solidarity protests around the world over the weekend, from New Zealand…

  • Woman:

    This has been happening for years, and to finally be able to speak up about it and feel like I'm doing something to help, you know, it means a lot.

  • William Brangham:

    And to Brazil.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

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