Since the beginning of 2020 the whole world has shuddered in ways that we have never seen—or could have prepared for.

Yes, while we have [mostly] been successful in defeating the natural enemies; global pandemic, wild fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, asteroids—the works—there is nothing natural about hatred.

Hatred is hatred, whether towards another race, or towards the people in uniform, who put their lives on the line to protect us—both are unacceptable.

A few bad seeds will never determine or define the trajectory of an entire population—and that goes for officers as well.

For the exact same reason men and women are protesting in the streets is the exact same reason it is inexcusable to attack officers—it’s an unjust act of violence and aggression.

Violence only breeds more violence. Period.

As an Atlanta native, I have seen what that violence can do, both historically and presently. Atlanta’s spirit is built on those struggles, those triumphs, and the ability to work together as a unit to make Atlanta rise.

As a society, we tend to forget that officers are human too—they are not perfect by any means, and when their medical needs are not tended to, just like any and every other human, things can escalate negatively. As a matter of fact, in 2019 more officers died as a result of suicide than in the line of duty. What does that say?

Like the rest of us, police officers have good days, bad days, traumatic experiences—and while none of it justifies bad behavior on anyone’s part—it does serve as a reminder that we are all bound by the same mortal flaws.

When we consider these very real aspects, we act accordingly, with compassion and understanding for one another.

We are all accountable for upholding and maintaining our own human rights, and the rights of others—peacefully and humanely. It’s not only a right—it’s a responsibility, and therefore should be treated as such.

Someone once said, “when we focus so much on the problem versus the solution, we get more of the problem rather than a solution,” and that statement couldn’t hold more truth.

As an Atlantan, I am proud of the way our city has come together during this time. The solidarity that has been, for the most part, exhibited by the Atlanta Police Department, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and our Atlanta Chief of Police, Chief Erika Shields, with the outcry of protestors, is powerful. Forever, I love Atlanta.

Though simultaneously dealing with the less peaceful uprisings that have come about, after the peaceful protests dispersed—these Atlantan leaders have represented the meaning of integrity through courage, understanding, and benevolence. Thank you for creating and encouraging an environment where police officer and protestor work together, hand-in-hand.

While we dream of a future that is perfectly peaceful between civilians and law enforcement— the reality is these things take time, and demand everyone’s complete cooperation.

According to The Guardian, Atlanta’s Chief Shields shared the sentiment, “The key is training and weeding out bad cops especially when you a see a pattern of bad behavior. I think it’s getting engaged with people and getting feedback in real time … Body-worn cameras have been tremendous, because they have shown us how a person is behaving when other people aren’t around. It has taken the grey area out when we’re dealing with complaints.”

Discrediting the progress of protests and police will not make this situation better. Especially not when the goal is to bring them together in harmony—we must not only be open to conversations, we should do our part in actively, and fervently, inviting it.

I can’t speak on behalf of every police department in the US, but I can confidently say that I feel the Atlanta Police Department can initiate the change this country needs; not just because of the history of the city, but because of the future of this city.

As a country, we need to stop working alongside the divide, and instead, start strategizing on how to purposefully bridge the gap.

With pride, I believe my city, the city of Atlanta, with our Atlanta Police Department and our “ATLiens” working side-by-side—can be the focus of such change built on an alliance and mutual respect. Like our mascot and symbol, the phoenix, that is born of the ashes, we too shall rise—Resurgens.

UPDATE: In the events that have transpired since this piece was originally published on June 10, 2020, there have been a lot of unfortunate changes and loss.

Our APD has been tainted by the actions that resulted in the most unforgivable death of an Atlantan man; 27 year old father of three, Rayshard Brooks, and the most unfortunate resignation of our brave Atlanta Police Chief, Erika Shields who took one for the team by offering her resignation, but she should never be held accountable for her bravery and leadership as Chief of Police.

Atlanta will always rise. Forever I love Atlanta.