Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has declared a state of emergency and deployed 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops to Atlanta, following a weekend of shootings that left dozens injured and resulted in several deaths, WSB-TV reports.
The troops have been activated to protect state buildings and “allow state law enforcement personnel to increase patrols on roadways and throughout communities,” according to Business Insider.
Over 30 people in Georgia were shot during the Fourth of July weekend, and five people, including an 8-year-old-girl, died. The girl, Secoriea Turner was shot on Saturday night close to the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed by police last month. Turner, her mother, and her mother’s friend were in a car when multiple shooters took aim at the vehicle.
The outlet reports that demonstrators have taken over the same Wendy’s, leading to ongoing protests. “Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda,” the Republican governor stated Monday. “Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead.”
He also took to Twitter, writing, “This recent trend of lawlessness is outrageous & unacceptable. Georgians, including those in uniform, need to be protected from crime & violence. While we stand ready to assist local leaders in restoring peace & maintaining order, we won’t hesitate to take action without them.”
Apparently, this tweet was aimed at Atlanta’s Democratic Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who has had a rocky relationship with the governor.
Bottoms denounced the violence on Sunday, saying “enough is enough,” and emphasized that the violence wasn’t originating from the police, but from the community. “This random wild wild West shoot-'em-up because you can has gotta stop,” she said. “It has to stop.”
The Georgia National Guard will protect the Georgia State Capitol, Governor's Mansion, and Georgia Department of Public Safety Headquarters, the last of which was vandalized during the weekend.
According to WSB-TV, a group of 60 to 100 protestors wearing dark clothing and masks ascended upon the headquarters late at night. “They were armed with bricks, landscaping bricks, Molotov cocktails, fireworks. Their one mission was to destruct property and that is exactly what they did,” said Lt. Stephanie L. Stallings, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
Protest organizers criticized the violence and maintained that the group isn’t affiliated with Black Lives Matter.
Meanwhile, state Democrats have reprimanded Kemp for devoting his efforts to protecting buildings—both where he works and lives—rather than residents.
“For months, we have begged the governor to take serious steps to stop COVID-19 from decimating our communities, but he refuses,” Democratic State Sen. Nikema Williams, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “His choice to deploy National Guard troops for today's selfish purpose is outrageous and will endanger lives.”
WSB-TV reports that 31 people were shot in 11 incidents between Friday and Sunday.
The governor deployed Georgia National Guard troops to Atlanta in late May due to looting and violence, apparently fulfilling a request made by Bottoms. However, the mayor—who recently tested positive for coronavirus—said at “no time” did she ask Kemp for help and never agreed to his decision.
“The irony of that is I asked Governor Kemp to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta and he said no,” Bottoms said Tuesday on Good Morning America. “But he has called in the National Guard without asking if we need the National Guard.”