A defiant Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields announced a 9 p.m. curfew for May 30 to sunrise on May 31 and denounced outside “terrorists” who came to destroy the city after a night of looting, arson, and vandalism.
Bottoms said last night’s violence was not protest, but chaos orchestrated by outsiders and “anarchists” who came to “destroy this city.”
“I am taking the extreme step of issuing a curfew from 9 p.m. to sunrise,” the mayor said. “This is not to infringe on anyone’s rights, we respect each of your rights, but we cannot let what happen last night happen again.”
Bottoms told Atlantans to to get to safe place before 9 p.m. “Find yourself in a safe place this evening, know where your children are this evening, we don’t want to arrest or detain anyone, but we will maintain order in the streets of Atlanta this evening.”
MARTA it would suspend all bus and rail service at 9 p.m. as well and resume Sunday morning, May 31, at their scheduled time.
Chief Shields said those who incited the violence were not Atlantans, but a “highly calculated terrorist organization” embedded inside the peaceful protesters.
“We know the organizers of protests in the city, but we didn’t know these people and the organizers didn’t know them either. These people weren’t here to fight for civil rights, they were here to destroy Atlanta.”
Shields continued: “To those who came here and pulled this crap, know that it won’t happen again. You caught us off balance, but it won’t happen again. There will be zero tolerance for violence. I’m ready to lock people up.”
Gov Brian Kemp ordered 1,500 National Guard troops to the city this evening to support local law enforcement.
Last night’s protests were for George Floyd, the Minneapolis man killed by police on Memorial Day. Various cellphone video of Floyd’s arrest showed him handcuffed and face-down on the street as officer Derek Chauvin, who was fired and is now charged with third-degree murder, uses his knee to restrain him.
Shields denounced the Minneapolis cops involved in Floyd’s death, calling them murderers and failed human beings.