ATLANTA - Gov. Brian Kemp has declared a State of Emergency after a violent Fourth of July weekend throughout the city of Atlanta.
In a statement, Kemp cited "weeks of dramatically increased violent crime and property destruction in the City of Atlanta," pointing out 30 Georgians were wounded by gunfire, including five who were killed.
"Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead," Kemp said in a statement. "This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city. I have declared a State of Emergency and called up the Georgia Guard because the safety of our citizens comes first. This measure will allow troops to protect state property and dispatch state law enforcement officers to patrol our streets. Enough with the tough talk. We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians."
The governor had previously responded to a shooting Sunday that killed a 53-year-old man and injured two other people on the 1100 block of Pryor Road in southwest Atlanta. That deadly shooting came less a day after 8-year-old Secoriea Turner was shot during a confrontation on the same road Saturday night.
In both cases, the shootings happened near the Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was shot in June. Protestors had recently erected illegal barricades, according to authorities. The mayor and police have allowed protestors to occupy the Wendy's in recent weeks, allowing for open discussion. But since Turner's death, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that opportunity no longer stands, and the area will be cleared.
On Sunday, Kemp said on Twitter that all Georgians, including law enforcement, "need to be protected from crime & violence."
"While we stand ready to assist local leaders in restoring peace and maintaining order, we won’t hesitate to take action without them," Kemp said.
The State of Emergency authorizes the activation of up to 1,000 National Guard troops to provide support in buildings that include the Georgia State Capitol, the Georgia Department of Public Safety Headquarters, and the Governor's Mansion.
The declaration would also allow the state to increase patrols on roadways and communities, focusing on Atlanta.
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