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Atlanta Mayor Asks For Peace During Protests, Weighs Curfew

Demonstrators march through downtown Atlanta to protest the shootings of two black men by police officers, Friday, July 8, 2016. Thousands of people marched along the streets of downtown to protest the recent police shootings of African-Americans. Atlanta Police Chief George Turner and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said earlier in the day that people have the right to protest this weekend but urged them to cooperate with law enforcement.  (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Demonstrators march through downtown Atlanta to protest the shootings of two black men by police officers, Friday, July 8, 2016. Thousands of people marched along the streets of downtown to protest the recent police shootings of African-Americans. Atlanta Police Chief George Turner and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said earlier in the day that people have the right to protest this weekend but urged them to cooperate with law enforcement. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Credit Mike Stewart / Associated Press

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With Atlanta set to see its fifth straight day of protests, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed called on demonstrators to remain peaceful.

Last week’s police killings of two black men – one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the other outside Minneapolis – kicked off protests nationwide. Those protests intensified after a sniper killed five police officers in Dallas.

Demonstrations in Atlanta, though, remained relatively peaceful. Reed said over the weekend, more than 15,000 people turned out to protest and only 25 were arrested. Another protest is scheduled Monday night at Lenox Square Mall.

The mayor credited Atlanta Police and the Georgia State Patrol for keeping order without resorting to mass arrests.

“If we had started making arrests of these young people, we would have been contributing to the very pathology that we’re talking about, and that is giving young black people arrest records.” Reed said. “And so I ask that you all consider the humanity we’ve show in doing everything we could to refrain from arresting you, but all things have their limits.”

Reed says the city’s current means of monitoring the protests is “the right configuration,” though he said calling in the National Guard isn’t out of the question. When asked, the mayor also said he’s “certainly considering” a curfew, and would meet with city officials this later this afternoon to discuss ways to handle continuing protests.

Reed said the city will continue to spare no effort monitoring the protests. He said APD has canceled all off-days and that officers are currently working 12-hour shifts. He said the department has logged a collective 6,000 hours in overtime.

“APD will likely maintain 12-hour shifts, until we know if the nature of the protests has changed. Simply stated, we will remain vigilant,” Reed said.

The mayor said the protests and long hours are taking a toll on officers and asked protesters to treat them with respect.