Updated at 10:45 a.m. Saturday
The eighth day of protests in Atlanta began with a more celebratory atmosphere. Crowds of hundreds gathered near Centennial Park while a marching band played.
A few hundred protesters defied curfew and continued to march away from Downtown Atlanta through Midtown, Piedmont Park and on the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail well into the eight o’clock hour with relatively no police presence.
The City of Atlanta announced earlier this week that an 8 p.m. curfew would be in effect all weekend.
Atlanta Police Department reported that for the first time in a week, no arrests were made during the protest.
After marching well past the 8 p.m. curfew, the last few demonstrators are told by Atlanta police they can continue to walk to their cars if they stay on one side of the street. (Photo credit: Alex Helmick)
Protests have been ongoing in Atlanta and all over the U.S. in response to the killing of a black man named George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer.
An Emory University infectious disease specialist says he has serious concerns that police spraying tear gas on protesters could spread the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported Friday that coronavirus infections statewide have topped 50,000.
Emory’s Dr. Jay Varkey said that mass arrests and confining people in small spaces dramatically increases the risk of infecting others with the coronavirus.
He says that tear gas and other chemical agents cause people to immediately rub their eyes, putting demonstrators at risk of being infected.
Varkey says he thinks law enforcement agencies should at least consider alternatives to tear gas and similar chemical agents during protests during the pandemic.
There have been no reports of tear gas to disperse protesters in Atlanta since Tuesday, June 2.