Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) announced early on Saturday he would deploy the national guard after protests in Atlanta over the death of George Floyd turned violent.
Kemp, who is in his first term as Georgia’s chief executive, made the decision at the request of Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms. According to the governor’s Twitter account, “as many 500 members” of the Georgia National Guard will be deployed immediately to reinforce local law enforcement in Atlanta.
They will deploy immediately to assist @ga_dps, @GaDNRLE, @GA_Corrections & local law enforcement who are working tirelessly to subdue unlawful activity & restore peace. We will continue to make all state resources available to local leaders during this emergency situation. (2/2)
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) May 30, 2020
The move came after a long day of peaceful protests across the city descended into chaos and violence, with protesters vandalizing buildings and setting fire to police cars. Among the turmoil, protesters defaced CNN’s global headquarters and ransacked the College Football Hall of Fame. There are also reports that a visitor’s center in the city’s Centennial Olympic Park was set ablaze and looting was witnessed at an upscale shopping mall.
The front of CNN Center in Atlanta was the scene of violent protests on Friday evening that resulted in damage to the front of the building and inside https://t.co/Uz5PsPdoND pic.twitter.com/TsIsu9LCbn
— CNN (@CNN) May 30, 2020
Bottoms, herself, held a press conference Friday evening to implore the protesters to stay home and not cause any more damage.
“What I see happening on the street of Atlanta is not Atlanta,” the mayor said, declaring the situation had moved past the point of “protest.”
“This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos. A protest has a purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn’t do this to our city,” she said. Adding that “if you love this city … then go home.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says the violent demonstrations in Atlanta are “disgracing the life of George Floyd”: “When you burn down this city, you’re burning down our community. If you want change in America, go and register to vote.” https://t.co/N5oZfxvFs3 pic.twitter.com/us3whIQnqu
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 30, 2020
The protests in Atlanta, like in most of the country, arose after a video went viral this week showing Floyd, a Minneapolis man, struggling to breathe as a police officer is seen kneeling on his neck while attempting to arrest him for alleged forgery. The officer in question, Derek Chauvin, was a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis police who had been the subject of at least 18 prior civilian complaints.
In the video, Floyd is heard pleading for help, claiming he cannot breathe as Chauvin stands over him. Tou Thao, Chauvin’s partner, who also has a record of police brutality complaints, is seen in the video refusing to intervene.
After the video went public, Chauvin was fired from his position and subsequently on Friday arrested and charged with murder.