Atlanta mayor, police chief address protesters on 7th day of demonstrations

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addresses protesters Thursday, June 4, 2020 in Atlanta (FOX 5 Atlanta).

Atlanta's mayor and police chief took to the streets as demonstrations over the death of George Floyd entered their seventh straight day in the city.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields addressed protesters marching through the city Thursday evening, the same day a memorial service was held for Floyd in Minneapolis.

FOX 5 cameras caught the mayor and the police chief speaking to demonstrators ahead of the 9 p.m. curfew.

Protesters were expected to take a similar route in Thursday demonstrations as they have in the past week, marching from Centennial Olympic Park through downtown.

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Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields speaking with protesters Thursday, June 4, 2020 (FOX 5 Atlanta).

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Bottoms earlier announced that curfews would start at 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and then at 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. All of the curfews end at sunrise. Nearly everyone in the crowd downtown dispersed ahead of Wednesday’s curfew, and police and National Guard troops did not advance in a phalanx the way they did the night before.

The mayor has been praised for her response to the unrest which unfolded in Atlanta. Her passionate and deeply personal plea to protesters during the first night of demonstrations has seemed to resonate with many.

“You’re not going to out-concern me ... about where we are in America. I wear this each and every day," Bottoms said.

Bottoms announced the establishment of a commission of stakeholders and organizers to examine the city's use of force policies and "call upon them to make recommendations accordingly."

Whiled demonstrations have remained mostly peaceful since Friday, about 400 people have been arrested in Atlanta during protests over the previous four days, according to numbers released by police.

Shields had addressed crowds before. When confronted by a black woman concerned for her safety and the safety of others, Shields spoke on the use of police force and told the woman she had a right to be upset.

“I have heard from so many people that can not sleep, they’re terrified, they’re crying, they’re worried for their children – there’s a problem."

The Atlanta Police Department was thrust into the spotlight after video showed officers tasing and dragging two college students from their car during one of the nights of protest. 

After reviewing police body camera footage, Bottoms and Shields terminated two of the officers involved. A few days later, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced criminal charges had been filed against the six officers involved in the arrest.

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The city experienced widespread vandalism and looting after a peaceful demonstration on Friday. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp authorized up to 3,000 National Guard troops to be deployed to cities across the state, and sent state police to reinforce law enforcement in Atlanta.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.