By Nolan Huber-Rhoades
Linked by a common cause, the grieving family of Johnny Hollman and community organizers against the proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center called for a protest on Thursday after Atlanta Police Department (APD) Officer Kiran Kimbrough killed 62-year-old Hollman during a routine traffic accident investigation around midnight on the morning of Aug. 11.
Hollman’s daughter, Arnitra Hollman, said she was on the phone with her father for the final 17-minutes of his life. “I heard my daddy in distress. I heard my daddy tell me he couldn’t breathe I heard my daddy beg for help,” Hollman shared through tears during the press conference at the Cop City Vote Coalition Westside office Aug. 18.
Hollman’s family was joined by civil rights attorney Mawuli Davis, community organizers with the Cop City Vote Coalition, activists Lorraine Fontana and Taylor Jordan, and Royce Tillman, Hollman’s pastor at Lively Stones of God Ministries.
Davis, one of the attorneys representing Fontana and Jordan after they were arrested in a Home Depot parking lot while protesting the training center, spoke about the connection of political repression and police violence. “That is why we are all standing here together today… The prayer that [the Hollman] family had is that there would be people that would stand with them,” said Davis. “Who else to stand with them but the folks who have been doing this work over all of these years?”
According to Mary Hooks, tactical lead for Cop City Vote Coalition, APD arresting protestors and escalating police violence is nothing new.
“From the horrible murder of Johnny Hollman to the arresting of forest defenders while exercising their free speech, we continue to see an institution that is rotten to its core do what it’s been trained to do,” said Hooks, “and while many of us have been out here in the sweat and in the heat gathering signatures, contesting this city about spending $67M dollars on a police training facility, we must beg the question: Are we going to continue to pretend that this is a training issue?”
Hollman said she heard her father asking Kimbrough on several occasions, “You gonna do an old man like this?”
Community advocate Shar Bates offered a response to Hollman’s question.
“23-year-old Kiran Kimbrough didn’t see any respect for his elder because that is the culture,” said Bates. “Being a police officer is the only job in the world where you get to be the juror, the jury, the judge, the executioner—you get to do everything. Not even the president can shoot somebody and already know in his mind that he’s going to get away with it.”
Bates invited anyone who empathizes with the Hollman family and the protesters whom the police are targeting for arrest to meet for a protest outside of APD Headquarters in Downtown Atlanta at 5:00 p.m., Aug. 24.
“I’m tired of playing games. We gotta go straight to them because they want us to fear them so bad we don’t question nothing,” Bates concluded. “That era is over.”
Cinematography by Nolan Huber-Rhoades and Lev Omelchenko