ATLANTA — In response to the spark of violent protests in downtown Atlanta Friday night, the mayor ordered a 9 p.m. curfew until sunrise Sunday.
Gov. Brian Kemp said state officials will “not back down from those who peddle conflict and chaos” and signed an executive order deploying an additional 1,000 Georgia National Guardsmen on top of the 500 he already deployed to assist local law enforcement.
“While life is more valuable than property, we do not want the destruction of either,” he said in a video message. “What we witnessed was outrageous, and we’ll do our part, in conjunction with local leaders, to plan, mobilize and respond appropriately to threats that undermine public safety.”
According to the Atlanta Police Department, there were 71 arrests Friday night during a protest that went into the early hours of Saturday morning. Twenty Atlanta Police cars were damaged — two lost completely — and multiple fires had to be contained.
Kemp promised the state would “do what's necessary to keep the peace.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was grateful that the Atlanta Police did not lose any officers and the city did not lose any protestors on Friday.
“We do not want to have to detain anyone, but we will maintain order in the streets of Atlanta tonight,” she said.
Atlanta Chief of Police Erika Shields addressed protesters face to face in the crowds and said she understands people are upset.
But her tone changed during a Saturday press conference after the violence Friday and said she’s “ready to lock people up.”
“When you come in, and your goal is to inflict harm, damage, property damage, without any regard to human life, you are a terrorist,” Shields said. “You caught us off balance once, you won't do it twice."