Gov. Brian Kemp Activates National Guard as Atlanta Protests Turn Violent

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 29: A man stands on top of a burning police car during a protest on May 29, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Demonstrations are being held across the US after George Floyd died in police custody on May 25th in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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