ATLANTA - Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms delivered an emotional addresses aimed at demonstrators to stop the destruction in downtown Atlanta over the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who was killed in police custody.
"When I saw the murder of George Floyd, I hurt like a mother would hurt. And yesterday, when I heard there were rumors about violent protests in Atlanta, I did what a mother would do, I called my son and I said 'Where are you?' I said, 'I cannot protect you and black boys shouldn't be out today'. So you not going to out concern me and out care about where we are in America," Bottoms told reporters during a press briefing Friday night amid the unrest.
Protesters gathered around 3 p.m. at Centennial Olympic Park, at Park Avenue W NW and marched on to the Georgia State Capitol before heading back to the park. Demonstrations remained peaceful at first, but began to turn violent when the large crowd arrived around the CNN Center on Marietta Street NW.
"So what I see happening in the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos. A protest has purpose," Bottoms said.
In several instances, demonstrators clashed with police officers who were there to keep the peace. At one point, a group of demonstrators surrounded an Atlanta police officer inside his patrol vehicle. Additional officers arrived and began to push protestors back away from the vehicle, which led to a number of scuffles between police and protestors and at least three arrests, according to Atlanta Police. One officer was pushed to the ground and sustained minor injuries.
"Officers have been subjected to water bottles, eggs and other items being thrown at them. However we remain hopeful this activity will cease and there will be no need for further arrests or clashes with protestors," APD said in a statement to FOX 5.
The CNN Center suffered signifcant vandalism and multiple cars were set on fire at various points in the night. Businesses in the area also suffered damage.
Demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd meet police outside the CNN Center in Atlanta Friday, May 29, 2020 (Austin McAfee/FOX 5 Atlanta).
"If you want change America, go and register to vote. Show up at the polls on June 9. Do it in Novermber. That is the change we need in this country. You are disgracing our city. You are disgracing the life of George Floyd and every other person who has been killed in this country," Bottoms said. "We are better than this. We are better than this as a city. We are better than this as a country. Go home."
The incident involving Floyd sparked outrage after video showed a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee on Floyd's neck while Floyd said he couldn't breathe. Floyd was pronounced dead at a hospital after being detained by police. All four officers involved were fired.
One of the officers involved, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.