Atlanta Police Arrest Over 150 People; Kemp Doubles National Guard Troops
Despite a 9 p.m. curfew enacted by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, rioters damaged more property across Atlanta. At least one police officer was seriously hurt during the night. An ATV rider struck the officer on Ted Turner Drive, police said.
Bottoms joined Host Chuck Todd for a joint interview with the District of Colombia mayor Sunday morning on Meet the Press.
"Things were a bit more calm last night, but they weren’t perfect," Bottoms said. "People were still out protesting by and large peacefully. We had a curfew last night, a 9 o'clock curfew. We ended up arresting around 157 people last night."
Atlanta police said they also arrested more than 70 people Friday night, which was the first day of planned protests in the downtown area. Peaceful demonstrations turned violent around 8:30 p.m. as the sun set.
Increasingly tense and violent protests have continued across the nation since Monday, when police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, killed George Floyd, a black man who was in their custody. Those four officers have all been fired and one has been arrested and charged with murder, but the outrage at the lack of change in police policy and anger over systemic racism has boiled over into violent unrest.
But protesters also cite the recent killings of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed March 13 by Louisville Metro Police Department officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove when they forcibly entered her apartment under a “no knock" warrant, and Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed by father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael Feb. 23 while jogging in a Brunswick neighborhood. The video of Arbery’s death was released in early May and sparked outrage across the nation.
Police cars were set ablaze in several cities and officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to contain demonstrators as the country convulsed through another night of unrest after months of coronavirus lockdowns, according to the Associated Press.
Gov. Brian Kemp again updated his order Saturday, authorizing up to 3,000 Georgia National Guard troops to patrol the entire state.
I am so thankful to @TAGofGA and the men and women of the @GeorgiaGuard for answering the call this weekend to keep Georgians safe. pic.twitter.com/fDqwCh2SJz— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) May 31, 2020
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said in a Saturday night press conference that an out-of-state agent provocateur was suspected to be the planner of an unsanctioned downtown protest rally scheduled for Sunday, May 31, according to the Savannah Morning News.
There was speculation the organizers sought to stir up trouble, but Johnson said city leaders would attend the rally and they would not tolerate violence.
Kemp told Channel 2 Action News late Saturday that he’s been in contact with Savannah’s leader and pledged to have “people on the ground down there” to thwart the chaos that erupted in Atlanta late Friday when peaceful demonstrations turned violent.
Faith leaders in Macon-Bibb County plan to protest peacefully by taking a knee in honor of George Floyd, the Minneapolis black man who died in police custody after now-fired officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes.
The calls for calm started Friday night when Atlanta's mayor joined local leaders in a press conference.
“This is not a protest, this is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.,” she said, emotion filling her voice. “This is chaos. A protest has a purpose.”
Atlanta-native rapper and activist Killer Mike also spoke out Friday, saying "It in your duty not to burn our own house down."
Civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis joined the chorus of voices Saturday begging outraged citizens to "be constructive and not destructive."
I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has, indeed, been denied for far too long. Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way. Organize. Demonstrate. Sit-in. Stand-up. Vote. Be constructive, not destructive. https://t.co/YbB14dgzr9— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) May 30, 2020