ATLANTA, GA – Georgia Governor Brian Kemp released a video Thursday afternoon in support of law enforcement, saying the state "proudly backs the blue."
The comments came just hours after some Atlanta police officers called out sick in protest of the firing of former officer Garrett Rolfe, and the same day as Rolfe and Officer Devin Brosnan turned themselves in to police in connection with the death of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy's on Friday.
On Friday, Brosnan and Rolfe responded to calls about a man who was asleep at the wheel in the Wendy's drive-thru lane, later identified as Brooks. Police video showed him cooperating until a breath test determined his blood-alcohol level was over the legal limit and one of the officers moved to handcuff him. Brooks was wrestled to the ground, broke free and took off with a stun gun; Rolfe shot him as he tried to run away.
"While so much of our attention is on the few that have violated their oath, we have failed to express our deepest appreciation for the many more who uphold it every day," Kemp said in the video.
"In response, lawmakers have worked under this Gold Dome to craft legislation and to ensure accountability and guarantee that liberty and justice for all has no exceptions," he said in the video.
Kemp said the state values its public servants and prays for them daily.
"We stand with you," he said. "We support you, and we have your back. God bless our peacemakers, and the communities they protect."
Here’s Kemp’s full statement:
"Every day, thousands of Georgians wake up and put on a uniforms. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters from every race, every background, every walk of life. While different people with different stories, these local heroes are united by one calling: To protect and serve."
"Over the last several weeks, Georgians have gathered to demand justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many more who were tragically killed. And in response, lawmakers have worked under this Gold Dome to craft legislation and to ensure accountability and guarantee that liberty and justice for all has no exceptions.
"While so much of our attention is on the few that have violated their oath, we have failed to express our deepest appreciation for the many more who uphold it every day. So today and every day, we say 'Thank you.' To public safety officers across our state who follow their training, act with integrity, and work around the clock to keep the peace, we are eternally grateful for your service.
"During this global pandemic, you stepped up to help enhance COVID-19 testing. You worked overtime to keep your friends and neighbors safe during peaceful community protests. And even when it seemed like the world abandoned you, and demonized your profession, you continued to sacrifice your life for the safety of others.
"I know that these moments of uncertainty are challenging, and some of you fear going to work. You worry for your life and your loved ones. You don't want to give up on doing the right thing, but you don't want to get caught up in the politics either. Well know this: We stand with you. We support you, and we have your back.
"I don’t know what comes next, but know that you are not alone. Georgia is a state that proudly backs the blue. We value these public servants and pray for them daily. We remember those who died in the line of duty and their families who still mourn their passing. It is impossible to describe the magnitude of their loss, which I’ve experienced firsthand attending the funerals of nine officers we’ve lost in just the past year-and-a-half.
"There’s no doubt that we have a lot of work to do as a state, to live up to our highest ideals and reach our full potential. I’m confident that together, we can get there. With your help and continued support, we can build a safer, stronger and more prosperous state for all Georgians. God bless our peacemakers, and the communities they protect."
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