Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has activated National Guard units and declared an emergency as demonstrations in Atlanta escalate into riots and looting, sparked by the police killing of a Minneapolis man earlier this week.
Mayhem has erupted in downtown Atlanta, where arsonists have set fire to several cars, including a police vehicle, with reports of several other fires around the city.
Another police car on fire in Atlanta: pic.twitter.com/xmdcxHq2Cn
“At the request of Mayor Keisha Bottoms and in consultation with public safety and emergency preparedness officials, I have issued a State of Emergency for Fulton County to activate as many as 500 Georgia Guard troops to protect people and property in Atlanta,” Kemp said in a statement posted to Twitter early on Saturday morning, adding that they would “deploy immediately.”
We will continue to make all state resources available to local leaders during this emergency situation.
More fires in Downtown Atlanta. Cars are on fire near Starbucks close to Centennial Park. pic.twitter.com/8DBaeeeiBx
Videos shared to social media showed smashed up storefronts and looting in progress around the city, particularly at the Lenox Square shopping mall, where a number of law enforcement helicopters were seen hovering overhead.
A very tough night for downtown Atlanta. This is the College Football Hall of Fame. #AtlantaProtestpic.twitter.com/K7vt95n8lV
Looting occurred moments ago at an AT&T Store at the upscale Lenox Square shopping mall in #Atlanta, several miles from the original protest location. #GeorgeFloydpic.twitter.com/xrVq508jWB
Earlier on Friday, a rally elsewhere in the city was dispersed by police, pushing a crowd of demonstrators to the nearby CNN headquarters, where they staged a raucous protest, smashing police cars and windows at the building’s entrance.
A heavy police presence was deployed at the headquarters’ front door to keep the protesters out.