On the night of Saturday, May 30, 2020, Messiah Young, a recent graduate of Morehouse College, was driving home with his friend, a classmate who attends Spelman College, near Centennial Olympic Park. Minutes before they made it to an intersection that divided protestors and police, the city of Atlanta had issued a citywide curfew for 9 p.m.
With little warning, Young and his friend were attacked by cops. Video of police arresting two college students was captured by CBS 46 as well as on body cameras worn by officers. During the arrest, the cops slashed the tires of the vehicle, busted the windows from the cars, and used a Taser on Young and his female passenger before arresting the two.
The video went viral, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took swift action by announcing the firing of two officers involved.
Hours before the firings were announced, Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown held a press conference with several city leaders and students from Morehouse College and Spelman College at the Fulton County Jail. They were all there to support Young, who spent the night in jail after being arrested.
“We had to take action immediately,” Brown said during an interview on rolling out’s “A.M. Wake Up Call.” “The purpose of it was to stand for Messiah and set in course a plan of action. We can march, but if we don’t have a plan of action, then our marching is pointless. We need to have demands to move our community forward. As long as young people feel they are not being heard, they will continue to protest.”
Brown also discussed the actions of the police officers involved and how they were reprimanded.
“It was good but not enough,” he said. “There were more than the two officers engaged in what transpired. This is bigger than politics. The officer who grabbed Messiah Young and threw him to the ground is still on the police force. The officer claimed that he was trying to help the young man. They approached the vehicle, threw a knife in the tire. That’s what’s wrong with the justice system right now. We react instead of being proactive. They approached the vehicle as if they were approaching terrorists. Those were young college kids. The entire group should be relieved of their duties.”
Brown said he believes that the uprising in Atlanta goes deeper than police brutality and is tied to economic issues within the community.
“One of the things I mentioned to Mayor Bottoms is that everyone talks about the ‘Atlanta Way,'” he said. “What is the ‘Atlanta Way’? Because I met a young brother who lives in my district. He told me his family has been living in poverty since he was born. Those communities have been in poverty for four decades with Black leadership in place. People need change. They are struggling to survive out here. This is bigger than just George Floyd. This is about racial and socioeconomic inequality.”
Continue to the next page to watch video of Brown speaking at the June 1 rally at Atlanta City Hall.