Kemp Authorizes 3,000 Guard Troops for Protests in Georgia
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta’s mayor extended a curfew another night Sunday and Georgia’s governor authorized up to 3,000 National Guard troops to be deployed in cities across the state to respond if needed to protests over the deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota and Ahmaud Arbery.
Guard soldiers had helped enforce a 9 p.m. curfew Saturday in Atlanta, where violence has marred otherwise peaceful protests since Friday. Gov. Brian Kemp said more would be ready Sunday for demonstrations planned in Athens, Savannah and other cities.
“Hopefully we don’t have to,” the Republican governor told WSB-TV late Saturday.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms signed an executive order Sunday extending the curfew in the city, according to text and email notifications sent to residents. It will go into effect at 9 p.m. Sunday and end at sunrise Monday.
Atlanta police said Sunday they had arrested more than 150 people as protesters threw rocks at officers and broke windows in the downtown area. The curfew was imposed after demonstrations Friday night turned violent with people setting fires and smashing windows at businesses and restaurants.
“The protesters need to know we’re going to support their efforts in a peaceful, nonviolent protest,” Kemp said. “The agitators need to know that we’ll be there, like you saw tonight, to take them to jail if they’re destroying lives and property.”
In the downtown historic district of Savannah, a large crowd of demonstrators — white and black, many wearing masks — marched from oak-shaded Johnson Square to City Hall a block away. They chanted, “No peace, no justice!” and “I can’t breathe” while hoisting signs with slogans including “Black Lives Matter” and “Can’t Jog, Can’t Breathe, Can’t Black.” An organizer speaking over a microphone urged the crowd to stay peaceful.
A corner bank had its windows boarded and photos on social media showed police in riot gear standing in a nearby parking lot. Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted a photo of National Guard troops from a Savannah unit on standby with large transport trucks.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said he planned to join the demonstration, while warning that violence and vandalism would not be tolerated.
Kemp declared a state of emergency late Friday for Fulton County, which includes much of Atlanta. Late Saturday, he expanded that order to include the entire state for a period extending through next weekend.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Sunday she believed the overnight curfew and the National Guard presence helped reduce the amount of violence and property destruction in the city Saturday.