'Hoping and praying there is a change coming': Rayshard Brooks honored at funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church
ATLANTA – Ebenezer Baptist Church before the service started. “I may not even know him, but it seems like I do in a way. It saddens my heart, but things like this keep happening in our world today. I’m hoping and praying that there is a change coming so that nothing else like this happens again.”
The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, eulogized Brooks. The father of three young girls and a teen stepson, who has been called a "girl dad" by his loved ones, died June 12 hours after celebrating one daughter's eighth birthday. His death came just weeks after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and further stoked outrage and protests over racial injustice.
King’s daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, denounced structural racism in remarks at the funeral and called for demonstrations in support of racial equality to continue.
“If we miss this moment, we will find ourselves returning again and again to a pathway of chaos and self-destruction,” King said. “So to all of my activists, to all of my organizers and people of good will, we cannot stop our cry for justice and our fight for freedom. We cannot stop our demonstrations until our voices are heard and our demands for police reform are met. We must not stop until white supremacist policies and practices are no longer the order of the day.”
King later paid tribute to her father's “I Have a Dream” speech and declared: “Rayshard Brooks did not die in vain, because justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
A video montage tribute, showing photos of Brooks, often with his family and friends, was broadcast inside the church. A recorded song by Yolanda Adams played while the images shuffled.
Among those at the service were Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller; Stacey Abrams, the former state lawmaker who has been mentioned as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden; and Jon Ossoff, a young Georgia media executive who broke fundraising records amid an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2017.
Some mourners wore T-shirts with Brooks’ picture. Nearly everyone wore masks to protect against the coronavirus.
“We demand police reform,” Warnock said in the eulogy. “We need police reform, God knows we do. But hear me this day. This is much bigger than the police. Police brutality is as predictable as it is tragic. We will always have police brutality as long as we remain a nation committed to mass incarceration.
"Systemic racism is the framework. Mass incarceration is the beast. And all beasts have to be fed. The escalation of encounters between police and citizens is the means through which the beast is fed.”
Outside the church on Tuesday, a Jumbotron was placed in front of the bell tower to stream the service. A livestream was also offered for others to observe online.
“I was surprised that it happened,” said Kandace McCoy, who is a member of the Dominion City Decatur church congregation in Decatur, Georgia, where Miller is also a member.
“I was surprised that it actually hit close to 真人百家家乐官网网站home. I didn’t know that it would be somebody that we actually knew because it’s always in other states. I was very surprised, however, good things still come from situations like this. That’s what we’re hoping for, that God will work everything out for the good. And He will.”
Brooks' family attorney, L. Chris Stewart, said last week that comedian and actor Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site and includes several buildings around the King 真人百家家乐官网网站home on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta's historic Sweet Auburn district.
Will Brooks' death bring change? “I know it will,” McCoy said. “Not just his death, but the movement that’s going on right now in America, to bring more light to Black lives. It’s going to change because it’s already in effect.”
Contributing: Cara Kelly; The Associated Press