Peaceful protests turned violent in Atlanta on Friday night, with some demonstrators damaging police cars, vandalizing CNN’s headquarters and clashing with police, prompting an impassioned rebuke from the city’s mayor.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ voice rose in a televised press conference, with a stern message for violent protesters: “You are disgracing our city; you are disgracing the life of George Floyd … We are better than this.”
Early Saturday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency for Fulton County and activated as many as 500 Georgia National Guard troops “to protect people & property in Atlanta.”
The demonstrations in Atlanta were among a wide variety of protests in cities across the country Friday night, sparked by outrage over the death of George Floyd. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested Friday, days after video circulated of him holding his knee to George Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes before Floyd died.
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Earlier Friday, Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said in a televised interview that she understood the anger felt by the protesters: “Black men are routinely killed, whether it’s by police or other individuals, the reality of it is, we’ve diminished the value on their life … of course people are upset.”
As the demonstrations intensified, Bottoms feared the destruction would hurt minority business owners.
“This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos,” she said. “If you care about this city, then go home.”
The mayor referenced destruction that was documented in videos posted on social media.
CNN aired video of a clash between protesters and police at the CNN Center that included an explosion.
Local journalists documented fires and destruction in the city:
Contributing: The Associated Press