Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst is “angry” about police-involved killings of black people that have triggered nationwide protests, he said in a June 4 written statement. He said the city will soon list some transparency and equity steps it already has done and may hold some type of forum.

“These senseless murders are stains on American’s soul,” Ernst wrote in part. “The anger of the people of Brookhaven and of the world is legitimate. The anger is justified —we should be angry. I am angry, too. And, like you, I believe something should be done about it.”

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst.

Ernst’s comments come as protests have spread from Atlanta throughout the metro area and appear to be building momentum for discussions of racism and police reform. The mayor of Sandy Springs recently called for a citywide dialogue about racism and the mayor of Dunwoody indicated her administration will address discrimination. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on June 4 announced an advisory council to review police use-of-force policies.

Ernst’s statement said the city will soon “demonstrate the steps we’ve taken to be inclusive, responsive, transparent and fair.” He also said the recent killings “may be the start of a conversation…”

City spokesperson Burke Brennan could not immediately detail what those steps or conversation might be.

“Since the city’s inception, Brookhaven has implemented many measures to ensure equity and transparency,” Brennan said. “Many recommendations from advocacy groups on the national level are already in place in Brookhaven.”

On the possibility of forums, Brennan said, “The mayor has not formalized a formal conversation like a panel or town hall at this time — but that remains a possibility for the future. The mayor wants everyone to know his phone and email are open and he wants to hear from Brookhaven residents on this or any other topic.” Ernst can be reached by phone at 404-637-0710 or 404-664-8694 and by email at john.ernst@brookhavenga.gov.

Ernst’s full statement follows:

“Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick. Breonna Taylor in Lexington. George Floyd in Minneapolis. These senseless murders are stains on American’s soul. The anger of the people of Brookhaven and of the world is legitimate. The anger is justified — we should be angry. I am angry, too. And, like you, I believe something should be done about it.

“Brookhaven will do more than mourn the loss of black and brown lives to injustice. This city was founded upon the principles that we can and should live to a higher community standard, but as recent deaths prove, we as a society still have a long way to go.

“The Brookhaven I know values inclusion, equity and social justice. Over the next several days, the city will demonstrate the steps we’ve taken to be inclusive, responsive, transparent and fair. It doesn’t start or end there. The legacies of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor may be the start of a conversation that is inspired in their names. Let us sincerely listen to our residents and our own hearts. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure the fruits from this soul-searching mean their deaths were not in vain.”

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