ATLANTA - Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has released a new statement following the violence that broke out overnight during a protest over the death in Minnesota of George Floyd.
In the statement, Bottoms condemned the actions of protestors and looters who smashed windows, destroyed businesses, and threw bottles, rocks, and knives at law enforcement, saying that what she saw "was not a protest" and "not Atlanta."
"We as a people are strongest when we use our voices to heal our city instead of using our hands to tear it down," Bottoms said. "We know our citizens are angry. We are angry and we want justice. If we are to enact change in this nation, I implore everyone to channel their anger and sorrow into something more meaningful and effective through non-violent activism."
Protesters set a vehicle on fire during a protest following the death of George Floyd outside of the CNN Center. (Photo by Ben Hendren/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
The demonstration Friday began peacefully, according to both police and participants. It began with a rally at Centennial Olympic Park downtown, followed by a march to the state Capitol where protesters met with some lawmakers who are pushing state hate crimes legislation and then a return to the park, where they listened to speakers and said a prayer.
At night, however, groups broke into violence, lighting an Atlanta Police Department patrol car on fire in downtown Atlanta and destroying restaurants and jewelry stores in Buckhead.
The mayor had attempted to stop the protests with an emotional address at a press conference with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Daughter Bernice King and rappers T.I. and Killer Mike.
A glass wall stands shattered in the aftermath of rioting and protests in Atlanta (Photo by JOHN AMIS/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images)
"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 at that time
She suggested that the better way to change America was going to vote in June and November."
"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."
Bottoms said that the city began recovery efforts quickly Saturday morning, deploying crews to clean up the streets and remove graffiti downtown and in Buckhead.
"Now more than ever, I am calling on our communities to come together to show our strength as One Atlanta through prayer and working together to restore and heal our city as an example for the nation," the mayor said.
You can read the full statement from the mayor below:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.