On February 26, 2022, Atlanta native Jimmy J. Hill turned 60 years old. Grateful to see this milestone year, he knew that he wanted to celebrate in epic fashion. After all, he had survived: the mean streets of "Little Vietnam" (aka East Lake Meadows); multiple prison terms; witnessing his mother endure police brutality AND the loss of two sons. By all accounts, he had every right to wish for an unforgettable birthday celebration. So, he purposed in his heart that he would have the biggest celebration ever. He reached out to some friends and began to plan- but not in the way you might think. Instead of planning for cake and balloons and a DJ, Jimmy J. Hill was planning a rally in protest of police brutality. In particular, he was planning a rally to honor and lift up the names of young men whose lives were taken at the hands of police officers in Georgia.
Having experienced the loss of his son, Curtis Jordan, to gun violence in September 2012, Mr. Hill is no stranger to grief. He knows first hand the pain of losing a child, and the anguish that is felt when no-one seems to care about that loss. For that reason, he has a special place in his heart for the parents of victims of police brutality. When people, particularly black men, are murdered by police officers, it can seem as if society doesn't care. People are apt to believe the narrative put out by the media and police, even if it is proven to be false. For that reason, the victim is essentially criminalized in the court of public opinion. Knowing this, Mr. Hill wanted to give families of the victims of police brutality a chance to say the names of their loves ones, and tell the stories of the young men whose lives and death have impacted the community-at-large. Among those names, is Jimmy Atchison, Mr. Hill's other son, who was murdered by former Atlanta Police Officer, Sung Kim on January 22, 2019.
After the murder of Jimmy Atchison, both a GBI and FBI investigation were conducted, along with an investigation of the Public Integrity Unit (PIU) of the Fulton County District Attorney's Office. The reports all concluded that the murder of Jimmy Atchison by Sung Kim was unjustified. The report of the PIU stated that the shooting of Jimmy Atchison by Sung Kim was unjustified and that Sung Kim should be indicted for felony murder (Report of the PIU, 2020). Since the reports were published, the family of Jimmy Atchison has been pressing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to prosecute former Officer Kim; but she has yet to send the case to a Grand Jury (https://original.newsbreak.com/@the-revolutionary-report-1591372/2467361347387-what-happened-to-jimmy-atchison?s=influencer). The family has held numerous protests and press conferences, but D.A. Willis has yet to make a move on the case (https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/family-of-jimmy-atcheson-continue-to-seek-answers-from-2019-shooting).
Joined by community activists Scotty Smart, Porch'se "Queen" Miller, Gerald A. Griggs (who is also a Civil Rights Attorney) and Dontaye Carter (of Carter Media Group), Mr. Hill set the stage for a rally to remember at Woodruff Park on February 26th. Also in attendance at the rally, were the parents of:
- Jarvis Lykes, who was murdered by State Trooper Michael Bradley Nolen on December 29, 2017. The case was presented to a Grand Jury, but they failed to indict Trooper Nolen, citing the shooting as justified (https://original.newsbreak.com/@the-revolutionary-report-1591372/2471304552097-family-and-friends-gather-to-remember-the-life-of-jarvis-lykes?s=influencer).
- Jabril Robinson was murdered by Clayton County Officers Charlie McDaniel and Dwayne Parkin in 2016. The events surrounding his death are still unclear, as the claim by officers that he pointed a gun at them has been refuted by at least one witness. The case was closed with no indictment of either officer involved. To sign the petition demanding that Clayton County D. A. Tasha Mosley reopen this case, please visit https://www.change.org/p/tasha-mosley-clayton-co-district-atty-justice-for-jabril-robinson?redirect=false.
- Andrew Smyrna was driving a car rented by a friend when it was reported stolen. State Trooper Brandon Byrd arrived on scene and shot Andrew Smyrna multiple times, as he (Smyrna) tried to drive away. Although Trooper Byrd gave no verbal commands to Mr. Smyrna, and he fired at a fleeing suspect, who was unarmed, the case was closed without being presented to a Grand Jury. The family of Andrew Smyrna has started a petition demanding that DeKalb County D.A. Sherry Boston re-open the case and present it to a Grand Jury (https://www.change.org/p/johnny-isakson-charge-the-state-trooper-who-shot-and-killed-andrew-junior-smyrna-09f43d8e-eff7-4bd1-858d-d0cf7abf7b2c).
- Jayvis Benjamin was a young man who was unarmed when he was killed by a police officer Lynn Thomas in Avondale Estates, Georgia on January 18, 2013. Officer Thomas attempted to pull Jayvis Benjamin over in the car he was driving, when Jayvis crashed the car. Officer Thomas stopped his vehicle and exited, shouting at Benjamin to remain in the car, as Jayvis sat behind the wheel of the car. Jayvis followed those instructions; but the officer approached the Mustang, shouting at him to remain in the car, then drew his firearm and shouted for Jayvis to get out of the car, and pushed him as he sat. Because the driver’s side door was damaged, Jayvis started to climb out of the window. The officer pointed his firearm at Benjamin and began to back up as he continued shouting. At no point did the officer give any warning that he was going to discharge his firearm. Jayvis exited the vehicle through the driver side window and stated, “Y’all see what he’s trying to do to me?” appearing to address other people in the area. Benjamin’s hands were clearly visible and held nothing. While Jayvis was 6 feet away from him and for reasons not made clear, the officer fired a single gunshot fatally penetrating Jayvis Benjamin’s chest. Officer Thomas did not administer aid after shooting Jayvis, and he died of his injuries that evening. The Dekalb County District Attorney’s Office conducted an investigation and presented the case to a Civil Grand Jury, which recommended that the case be presented to a Criminal Grand Jury for criminal charges to be brought. However, instead of presenting the case to a criminal Grand Jury, on March 11, 2016, the District Attorney, Robert James, notified Jayvis’ mother, Montye Benjamin, that he would not pursue criminal charges for the unlawful and unjustified killing of Jayvis Ledell Benjamin (https://www.appealslawgroup.com/patrick-megaro-presents-jayvis-benjamin-police-killing-case-to-international-commission-of-inquiry-on-1-21-2021/).
- Vincent Truitt, who was murdered by Cobb County Police Officer Max Karneol on July 14, 2020. Vincent was the passenger in a car that was reported stolen and pulled over by Cobb County Police. As he exited the vehicle and ran away from Officer Max Karneol, Karneol shot him twice in the back, killing him. Although body cam footage contradicts the claim of Karneol that Vincent Truitt pointed a gun at him, a Civil Grand Jury found the shooting justified; and D.A. Flynn Broady, Jr. declined to send the case to a Criminal Grand Jury for indictment (https://original.newsbreak.com/@the-revolutionary-report-1591372/2507579311854-the-family-of-vincent-demario-truitt-is-still-demanding-accountability-opinion-biased-reporting-by-media?s=influencer.
They all held signs bearing the names and faces of their children; and marched with the family of Jimmy Atchison from Woodruff Park to Centennial Olympic Park. As they marched and chanted, community members joined in support of the march against Police Brutality, despite the fact that City of Atlanta Police Officers followed menacingly. The resolve of the families to stand in the midst of harassment from police, gave Mr. Jimmy Hill a new found energy to continue to fight for justice for all victims of police brutality. When asked how he felt, he said, "I'm just so full and overjoyed to see the community come out and support these families. This is what it's all about. I know it might be tough, but we'll keep fighting and we will get justice."
Reported by Keyanna Jones