Crowds Disperse Downtown As Curfew Hits In Atlanta

Crowds thin at the protest downtown Wednesday.
Crowds thin at the protest downtown Wednesday.
Credit Emil Moffatt / WABE
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Updated Wednesday at 9:46 p.m.

Protests in metro Atlanta continued Wednesday with demonstrations in Decatur and Marietta before crowds began gathering downtown.

Protesters had gathered downtown chanting and marching. Police were also on the scene. At one point, protesters sat down in mass, listening to people speak.

Organizers said they would sit down in the intersection of Marietta Street and Centennial Olympic Park Drive at 8:50 p.m. and demand an audience with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. But nearly everyone in the crowd downtown dispersed ahead of Wednesday’s curfew, and police and National Guard troops did not advance in a phalanx the way they did the night before.

Earlier, as protesters were still gathering at the Capitol Building, a march began toward the Supreme Court building about a half-mile away.

The march in downtown Decatur started Wednesday afternoon in the Square, home to a Confederate monument built in 1908 and a “contextualized” marker explaining the racist history of the monument and the Civil War.

The marker reads, “This monument and similar ones … were created to intimidate African Americans and limit their full participation in the social and political life of their communities.”

The protesters in the Square echoed that sentiment.

“Enough is enough,” Georgia State University student Chalèah Head said. “I’m the mother of a young black man. How do I tell him he has to put his hand on the steering wheel when a cop come by because he doesn’t know whether they are going to shoot him or not.”

Protesters march Wednesday in Decatur, Georgia. The protest and rally at the town square brought out hundreds who chanted the name George Floyd and filled the streets demanding justice. (Ron Harris/Associated Press)

Head called for the Decatur rally on social media, stating she knew residents in her hometown would remain peaceful, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The crowd moved through the streets of Decatur, marching through town and stopping traffic at intersections as police and sheriff’s deputies looked on.

They read the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African Americans who they say have recently been killed unjustly by police before dispersing around 5 p.m.

Atlanta is currently under a 9 p.m. curfew that applies Thursday as well, with an 8 p.m. to sunrise curfew this weekend.

Crowds have gathered downtown every day since Friday in response to the death of George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis last month. Similar protests have been held around the world for the last several days.

The curfew was instituted Saturday after protests Friday ended with property damage downtown and in Buckhead.

WABE reporter Emil Moffatt contributed to this report.