Kemp Deploys National Guard As Looting, Violent Protests Continue In Atlanta
Gov. Brian Kemp called out as many as 500 National Guard troops shortly after midnight, hours into violent and destructive protests across Atlanta and Buckhead.
Fires damaged several restaurants including Del Frisco’s Grille across from Lenox Mall and Atlanta Fire Rescue crews reported fire and heavy smoke near The Tabernacle and called in help from Cobb County firefighters.
At the request of Mayor @KeishaBottoms & in consultation with public safety & emergency preparedness officials, I have issued a State of Emergency for Fulton County to activate as many as 500 @GeorgiaGuard troops to protect people & property in Atlanta. (1/2)— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) May 30, 2020
Friday's march for justice after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and, most recently, George Floyd left many people — especially members of the black community — angry and on edge. Those feelings of unrest were not only in the citizens but also on the hearts and minds of leaders in Atlanta.
Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields released a statement ahead of the local protests saying she understood the outrage.
"How disconnected does law enforcement have to be for a man to be suffocated by a cop in broad daylight knowing that the cameras are rolling, with fellow officers standing around watching? These officers didn't just fail as cops; they fundamentally failed as human beings."
Shields stressed that the Atlanta Police Department does not teach nor tolerate any of the methods used to arrest Floyd. The officers involved with his death were fired and on Friday Derek Chauvin, the officer who pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes, was arrested and charged with murder.
"What I can state to you today, is that my colleagues and I are appalled with what has occurred to George Floyd," Shields said. "We fully expect for the officers to serve prison time — they've earned it."
But the sentiments shared by Shields, Bottoms, Killer Mike and local law enforcement officials didn't keep the rioting away from Atlanta.
The march began about 4 p.m., when people walked from Centennial Park to the State Capitol before heading back. Things started to get tense around 5:30 p.m. in front of the CNN Center, where one of the first signs of unrest exisited between a woman and an officer each grabbing at a bicycle.
By 8:15 p.m. a police car was on fire and several other cars were damaged with spray paint and smashed windshields. By 10 p.m. many people had gone home, but those who remained in the streets watched and participated as a second Atlanta police car was set on fire.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Atlanta Protests Turn Violent: Police Cars, Local Restaurants Damaged
Not long after crowds turned reckless Friday night, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms begged people to go home if they loved this city.
"Above everything else, I am a mother," Bottoms began. "When I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother would hurt."
In an impassioned plea, Bottoms told the community she cares as much if not more than they do about the people, the parents and the children.
"More than 50% of the business owners in Atlanta are minority business owners," she said. "You're not protesting anything running out with brown liquor in your hands, breaking windows in this city. T.I. and Killer Mike own half the west side so when you burn down this city you're burning down our community."
WATCH: Atlanta Mayor Speaks As Atlanta Protests Turn Violent