Atlanta police officers cleared roadblocks from a road near the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot after an armed group said they took over the area, making it into a police-free zone.
The Atlanta Police Department “assisted in clearing University Avenue of barriers that had been blocking the road. It is now open to thru traffic,” a police spokeswoman told The Epoch Times in an email late Wednesday.
“We did not remove any demonstrators or take any further actions,” she added.
Steven Gaynor, a police union official, told The Epoch Times in a text message earlier Wednesday that the armed checkpoint had been in place since the weekend and city officials were refusing to address it.
One of the armed men said he and his compatriots were carrying guns to protect themselves because “there is no police presence here.”
He was standing across the street from the Wendy’s at an adjacent BP gas station, in view of a barrier partially blocking the road.
Asked what would happen if the police tried entering the area, the armed man said, “The police aren’t allowed here, because they’re not here to protect us.”
A police spokesman told The Epoch Times earlier Wednesday that the department was monitoring the situation and planned to coordinate with community leaders and the Wendy’s property owner “to address security issues and help preserve peace for this community as soon as possible.”
Interim Police Chief Rodney Bryant told reporters over the weekend that police officers would respond to any 911 calls.
Felicia Moore, the Atlanta City Council president, said Saturday that a group of “armed young men with long guns and pistols” were blocking off the Wendy’s.
Residents who live nearby told media outlets they were having trouble with the group.
Kimberlee Jones, president of the South Atlanta Civic League, a neighborhood association, told WXIA that her mother was stopped and they wouldn’t let her through.
An activist said he was assaulted by the group after refusing to hand over his phone.
Brooks was shot in the early hours of June 13 after resisting arrest, stealing an officer’s stun gun, and firing it at least twice.
As he moved away from one of the arresting officers, he reached back and tried firing the stun gun at the officer. Garrett Rolfe, the officer, fired his gun, hitting Brooks twice in the back.
The manner of death was homicide, according to an autopsy.
Rolfe was charged with felony murder by Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard.
After the shooting, members of the community gathered outside the Wendy’s, which was eventually set on fire.
Natalie White, 29, was arrested this week for allegedly torching the building.