ATHENS, Ga. - Protestors have complained the use of tear gas in downtown Athens on May 31 was an excessive use of force, but Athens-Clarke County police said agitators infiltrated the peaceful George Floyd protest and forced officers to act.
Friday afternoon, Lt. Harrison Daniel told reporters police received intelligence prior to the peaceful daytime protests that matters would likely escalate to looting, vandalism, and violence.
"The intelligence also suggested that local gun stores would be targeted at the height of protests and while civil unrest was being dealt with elsewhere in the county. Other individuals were seen in all black clothing carrying weighted down backpacks and carrying firearms both openly and covertly," said Lt. Daniel, who is the Commander of the Office of Professional Standards.
Daniel said by nightfall, members of an extremist group with a different agenda infiltrated the protests. He said officers initially used innocuous smoke to disperse the crowd after informing protestors they would enforce a 9 o'clock curfew. Some demonstrators left, others stayed quipped with respirators, gallons of milk, and a leaf blower to offset the effects of tear gear gas.
"Individuals began approaching and began to disperse or defeat the gas and the intelligence also suggested that local gun stores would be targeted at the height of protests while civil unrest was being dealt with elsewhere in the county. Some were throwing objects and in the direction of officers and therefore, it was determined there was a public safety threat and the crowd had to be dispersed," said Lt. Daniel, who said investigators have concluded the actions police took that night were in line with ACCP policy.
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