Protesters demonstrate on University Avenue while holding a
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Protesters demonstrate on University Avenue while holding a "WE CAN'T BREATHE" sign, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out for the third straight night.

Atlanta-native rapper and activist Killer Mike spoke out about Friday night’s protests in the city, and urged protestors to reconsider damaging property and land.

Killer Mike, formally named Michael Render, joined Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta-native rapper T.I. in a press conference addressing the protests in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by former officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck on May 25. While Floyd was handcuffed on the ground, Chauvin knelt on his neck for about 9 minutes, continuing after Floyd was shown to be unresponsive. 

Taylor was shot and killed on March 13 by Louisville Metro Police Department officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove, who forcibly entered her apartment under a “no knock" warrant.

Arbery was shot and killed by father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael on February 23 while jogging in a Brunswick neighborhood. The video of Arbery’s death was released in early May and sparked outrage across the nation.

As Mike called for justice, he also called for better strategies to seek that justice.

“It is the responsibility of us to make this better right now,” he said. “We don't want to see one officer charged. We want to see four officers prosecuted and sentenced. We don't want to see Targets burning. We want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism burnt to the ground.”

Violent and destructive protests broke out late Friday night — including fires damaging restaurants near Lenox Mall, police cars engulfed in flames and the CNN monument being vandalized — and the amount of wreckage is incalculable.

Mike urged protestors to go home and come up with a better plan.

“I don't have any good advice, but what I can tell you is that if you sit in your homes tonight instead of burning your home to the ground, you will have time to properly plot, plan, strategize and organize and mobilize in an effective way,” he said. 

Lance Bottoms said both Mike and T.I. owned several of Atlanta’s land and businesses, and asked protesters to reconsider damaging the city.

"You're not protesting anything running out with brown liquor in your hands, breaking windows in this city,” she said. “T.I. and Killer Mike own half the west side so when you burn down this city, you're burning down our community."

Clifford Harris, better known as T.I., also spoke out against the violent protests.

“When you don't get treated right in New York, you don't get treated right in L.A., when you can’t get treated right in Detroit, you don't get treated right in St. Louis and you don’t get treated right in Alabama, Atlanta has been here for us,” Harris said. “We can’t do this here.”

Killer Mike is the son of a police officer, and he has been a proponent of civil rights — including rebuking police brutality — for several years. In response to the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., he said he was appalled by Americans’ apathy.

“I'm appalled at everyday citizens,” he said. “When will we, as an American constituency, tell our politicians [that] enough's enough? Enough mayors supporting murderous police departments. Enough police chiefs having to give excuses for murderous police officers.”

In a Billboard op-ed, he also denounced the violent protests in response to the 2015 killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

“For the people of Baltimore, I don't criticize rioting because I understand it. But after the fires die down: organize, strategize, and mobilize,” Mike said. “Like Ferguson, you have an opportunity to start anew.”

“Before you buy the $100,000 car, find a place that's stable and buy a piece of land. Buy a house, buy a piece of land,” he said. “Put your mama there, put your cousin there, put your baby mama, put someone there to steward that land, because you never know what's going to happen.”

 

As for Friday night’s protests that sprawled through Atlanta, Mike urged protestors not to damage the very city that was home to protests during the Civil Rights movement.

“I'm duty bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy. It is your duty to fortify your own house so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization,” he said. “And now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize.”

Illustrated designs of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
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Illustrated designs of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
An Atlanta Police Department vehicle burns as people pose for a photo during a demonstration against police violence, Friday, May 29, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police.
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An Atlanta Police Department vehicle burns as people pose for a photo during a demonstration against police violence, Friday, May 29, 2020 in Atlanta. The protest started peacefully earlier in the day before demonstrators clashed with police.