On Wednesday evening, a “higher than usual” number of Atlanta police officers reportedly called in sick for their shifts and ultimately did not show.
The coordinated call-outs, now being referred to as the “Blue Flu,” are connected to legal charges announced against the police officers responsible for the death of Rayshard Brooks, Officers Garrett Wolfe and Devin Brosnan.
Earlier on Wednesday, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced 11 charges against Wolfe, who has since been fired, which include felony murder. Brosnan also faces charges of aggravated assault and violating his oath of office, Fox 5 Atlanta reports.
BREAKING: Officer Devin Brosnan faces 3 charges including aggravated assault, related to standing on the body (shoulders) of #RayshardBrooks after he was shot. He plans to testify against Officer Rolfe according to Fulton County DA Paul Howard pic.twitter.com/7E4mC5Uiz5
— Courtney Bryant (@CourtneyDBryant) June 17, 2020
National Review reports Atlanta police union spokesman Vince Champion said the officers were walking off the job and remaining silent on radios to protest the decision to charge the Rolfe and Brosnan.
“This is not an organized thing, it’s not a blue flu, it’s not a strike, it’s nothing like that. What it actually is, is officers protesting that they’ve had enough and they don’t want to deal with it any longer,” he said per the report.
Here’s more on the “Blue Flu” from Forbes:
Wednesday night’s protest by the officers was sudden, but not unexpected. Amidst numerous social media reports that an unconfirmed number of Atlanta police officers were walking off their jobs, Vince Champion, Southeast regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the protest was taking place.
“There are officers walking off,” Champion told the AJC Wednesday evening. “There are officers saying they are not going to leave the precinct unless to help another officer. Some are walking off and sitting in their personal vehicles.”
Atlanta’s Police Department, for its part, responded to the reports by minimizing the scale of the protest. “Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate,” the Atlanta Police Department tweeted. “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.”
— Advertisement —
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
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said morale among the police officers is down “ten-fold.”
“This has been a very tough few weeks in Atlanta and with the tragedy of Mr. Brooks, and then on top of that the excessive force charges that were brought against the officers involved with the college students,” she said via the National Review. “There’s a lot happening in our city, and the police officers are receiving the brunt of it quite frankly.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says morale in her city's police department "is down ten-fold" amid reports officers are calling in sick tonight.
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) June 18, 2020
The Georgia Law Enforcement Facebook, an unofficial group, posted the following in response to the call-outs/walk-outs:
BREAKINGIt is being reported that multiple shifts within the Atlanta Police Department have walked off the job tonight, calls are pending, and the PD is begging surrounding agencies for help.
The head of Atlanta’s police union confirmed Wednesday that officers from the Atlanta Police Department in Zones 3 and 6…
And, here’s how some other people responded via BizPac Review:
Just got this email from an Atlanta police officer:
"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!"
— Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) June 17, 2020
I’m hearing that ALL cops from multiple zones in Atlanta are not showing up for work in response to the injustice from today…
Can anyone confirm?!
— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) June 17, 2020
I've been listening to Zone 6 Atlanta Police radio traffic for the last hour. There are 15 – 20 minute periods of absolute silence amid reports of officer walkouts. This clip was shared with @CherylPreheim by a police source. It's from Zone 3. The code 69 is Person With a Gun. pic.twitter.com/hkmbC5VF0Q
— Brendan Keefe (@BrendanKeefe) June 18, 2020
— Williamson County Sheriff Chody (@SheriffChody) June 18, 2020
After mass walkouts among members of the Atlanta police department, the mayor began requesting assistance from mutual aid jurisdictions. Officers from these jurisdictions are refusing to respond to any call other than one for an officer down.
— Blue Flu Cernovich (@Cernovich) June 18, 2020
BREAKING NEWS: Georgia police sources tell me only two police precincts are staffed in the entire city of Atlanta. Entire zones of officers are walking off the job. Zones 1,3,5 and 6 have left their posts. Zones walking off the job. #BlueLivesMatter
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) June 18, 2020
I’ve just been told that one Atlanta police station has around 2 officers in it, and they abandoned it.
Protesters are descending upon that station now.
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) June 18, 2020