As tensions between protestors and law enforcement grow, Atlanta police have reportedly started to walk off their jobs to protest the recent murder charge against the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks. The walkout comes as protests against the death of George Floyd have spurred a nationwide discussion on police reform.
According to The Washington Post, a number of police officers called in sick just before their shift change on Wednesday evening. The sudden calls coincided with the announcement that the police officer who fatally shot Brooks was being charged with felony murder, among other charges.
Though the mayor and police department did not disclose the exact number of no-shows, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms emphasized that the “streets won’t be any less safe” because of the call-ins.
Meanwhile, the police department issued a tweet denying rumors that any members of the force had been walking off the job.
Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate. The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents.
— Atlanta Police Department (@Atlanta_Police) June 18, 2020
However, other reports appear to contradict that statement. A police union spokesman confirmed that — though they had not arranged a “formal walkout” — there had been a protest, mainly consisting of officers calling in sick or refusing to answer calls other than those requesting backup.
This practice has been referred to as the “blue flu.”
“This is not an organized thing, it’s not a blue flu, it’s not a strike, it’s nothing like that,” Vince Champion, a spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers explained.
“What it actually is is officers protesting that they’ve had enough and they don’t want to deal with it any longer,” he added.
A number of police officers have also confirmed the rumors by contacting reporters and commentators sympathetic to their cause.
For example, conservative talk show host Steve Deace claimed he received an email from an Atlanta police officer that confirmed reports the city’s force decided to walk off the job.
“Atlanta police officers are refusing to answer the radio and walking off of the job. The county can go screw themselves. If you want a society without police we’ll give you one. Let it burn!” the email reportedly claimed, per Deace’s Twitter.
Though Atlanta cops may be protesting the charges against the officer charged with killing Brooks, critics of law enforcement have claimed that the punishment is justified, particularly in light of the officer’s history.
As was reported by The Inquisitr, it was recently revealed that Officer Garrett Rolfe had previously been issued a written reprimand for using excessive force during a September 2016 incident.