On Friday, before police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks in the parking lot of an Atlanta Wendy’s, he had been celebrating daughter Blessing’s eighth birthday. On Saturday, she was in her birthday dress, ready for more celebrations with her dad, as she learned he wasn’t coming home. Like George Floyd and so many others before him; he was more than a Black body victimized by police, he was a father to four children.
“My daughter knows that her father’s not coming home; my son knows that his stepfather’s not coming home,” Brooks’ wife Tomika Miller said of Blessing and her 13-year-old son Mekai (Brooks’ stepson) in an interview with WSB-TV Atlanta. The late Brooks was also father to her 2-year-old daughter Memory and 1-year-old daughter Dream. “My little children can feel that their father is not answering to ‘Daddy, Daddy!'”
Miller said they had been following news of Floyd’s death, and so many other less-publicized killings of Black men and women, and they prayed for things to get better. Never did she imagine that it would happen to him.
“He was a great father, a great husband,” Miller said. “He believed in peace; he believed in love.”
In a press conference on Saturday, Miller’s lawyer Justin Miller (no relation), said that Brooks had taken Blessing to get her nails done and they had gone to eat on Friday.
“When we were over there today she had her birthday dress on because she was waiting for her dad to come pick her up to take her to go skating,” the lawyer told reporters.
In the body-cam footage of his arrest, Brooks also mentioned his daughter’s birthday. He had been sleeping in his car in a Wendy’s drive-through when police were called. Following a long, civil conversation, a visibly intoxicated Brooks struggled with the officers and reportedly grabbed a Taser from one of them. He appeared to be attempting to run away when one of the officers shot him in the back. His death has been declared a homicide.
“He wanted to make it home to us,” Tomika Miller told WSB-TV. “He promised to take her for swimming lessons. She still asked me about that. Skating — she asked about that. It’s so much that has been promised.”
Every parent (every human being, for that matter), has to feel a stab to the heart as they imagine that little girl waiting for her father. And we have to feel the weight her mother now carries on her shoulders.
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) June 15, 2020
“It feels like I’m a statistic,” she said. “I’m stuck being a single black parent. They took something from me, and now I’m by myself taking care of four children. I’m being forced to do it by myself. This was not a choice. They forced this on me by taking my husband away. They just broke my family.”
Even in her devastation, Miller said she wished for peaceful protests and expressed empathy for the owners of the Wendy’s, which had been set on fire Saturday.
“Even though it’s a terrible situation, I just want them to fight with peace and fight with dignity, because that Wendy’s was somebody’s business, and they have a family to feed and take care of, just as well as me,” she said.
When you’re not fighting for racial justice, take a break with your kids and read these beautiful children’s books by Black authors and illustrators.