Protests this weekend set off by the death of George Floyd and police brutality shook the city of Atlanta. Thousands under the Black Lives Matter Movement took part in peaceful protests to honor not just Floyd, but also Ahmaud Arbery—killed by civilians in Brunswick, Georgia—Breonna Taylor and countless others slain by law enforcement.
But eventually, Atlanta demonstrations morphed into rage, following nights of riots in Minneapolis.
As the dust briefly cleared Saturday morning, WABE’s “Morning Edition” gathered stories of volunteers, local business owners and public workers cleaning up shattered glass and other debris. The Atlanta Police Department is still determining how many businesses were damaged or looted.
Katie Labgold, a Ph.D. candidate at Emory University, was spotted in front of Centennial Olympic Park, wearing her mask and wiping away vulgar graffiti on a pole that sits right in front of the park’s fountain. Labgold, who is white, called it her civic duty.
“I believe that black lives matter, and I think it’s important that white people actually show up and say that,” Labgold said.
Ashiqur Sikder, a 21-year-old Georgia State University student, was trying to study this weekend but said he couldn’t go to sleep without venturing out to clean up the city on Saturday.
“When it comes to other minorities, everyone has their flaws of being silent and not trying to voice in on this,” Sikder said.
APD, with the assistance of about 3,000 National Guards troops, arrested more than 200 people involved with protests over the weekend. Many were charged with disorderly conduct and booked in the Fulton County jail. Other charges ranged from burglary to carrying weapons without a license to willfully obstructing law enforcement officers.
Several officers were also fired or placed on desk duty after body cam and bystander footage showed “excessive force” used against two Atlanta college students. The pair were leaving Saturday night’s protests when officers hit their car windows with batons, shattering the glass. In the viral video, officers in riot gear attempt to pull the pair out of the vehicle while releasing stun guns.
“This is one that kept me up all night,” Mayor Keisha lance Bottoms said during a Sunday press conference.
APD Chief Erika Shields quickly fired officers Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner on Sunday.
Public health officials have also warned the protests could lead to another spike in COVID-19 cases across Georgia. During a Saturday night press conference, Mayor Bottoms warned everyone who attended protests to get tested for the coronavirus.
At the scene of demonstrations, many were seen without face masks as hundreds marched close together, screamed and linked arms.