COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Law enforcement officers across America are receiving backlash after back-to-back officers face charges following the deaths of two black men -- first George Floyd in Minneapolis, then Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta.
Senator Randy Robertson spoke for the second time in a week Thursday, addressing recent headlines with his fellow senators. He has an extensive history in public safety and is fired up about how officers are being treated.
“My people are neither black nor white,” said Robertson. “They’re neither Republican nor Democrat, gay, straight, male, female. My people are the people who stand on the front line and protect Georgia.”
Recent tragedies across the nation are shedding light on how public safety officers work and are trained. Less than one week ago, Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by a police officer in Atlanta. The officer was charged Wednesday with felony murder.
“The officers of the Atlanta Police Department are victims. They are victims of a broken prosecutor’s office. They told blatent untruths on a case the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has not completed investigating yet,” Robertson said.
Robertson served more than 30 years in law enforcement. He said the charges are political in nature, and don’t take into account the constitutional protections for officers. And as protesters call for the defunding of the Atlanta Police Department, the co-founder of Back Columbus Blue said that can’t happen.
“You know to live in a free society like we enjoy, we have to have rules and we have to have law enforcement we can count on,” co-founder Jed Harris said.
In the Chattahoochee Valley, division is rampant on social media, but Harris said the people are reaching out to his organization.
“During the last few weeks, I’ve received a number of private message requests for the Back Columbus Blue yard signs. Citizens here in Columbus want to show their open support for our local law enforcement,” Harris said.
Robertson said being a state senator is an honor, but it’s not the accomplishment he’s most proud of.
“If I die today, somewhere on my tombstone it’ll say state senator. But at the very top, it’ll say public safety officer. It’ll say law enforcement. I am proud to be a part of my tribe. I am proud to support my people when they do it right, and I have no problem disciplining them when they do it wrong,” Robertson said.
Robertson said when he looks into the crowd in Senate, he doesn’t see anyone who’s been stabbed, pepper sprayed, or spit on by people who could have anything. He said he’s reminded of that person when he looks in the mirror.