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WABE’s Week in Review: Protests in Atlanta

Demonstrators protest, Friday, June 5, 2020, in Atlanta. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
Demonstrators protest, Friday, June 5, 2020, in Atlanta. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
Credit Mike Stewart / AP Photo

On the Week in Review for May 31-June 6, WABE’s Managing Editor Alex Helmick highlights stories from our journalists on demonstrations throughout Atlanta.

As the week went on in Atlanta, protests here turned from clashes to peaceful displays. And we saw that in the number of arrests made by Atlanta police. On Friday night, there were zero arrests. And now city officials are lifting Saturday’s 8 p.m. curfew. 

Officers charged… 

Police body camera video released by the Atlanta Police Department, an officer points his handgun at Messiah Young while the college student is seated in his vehicle, in Atlanta.
Police body camera video released by the Atlanta Police Department, an officer points his handgun at Messiah Young while the college student is seated in his vehicle, in Atlanta. (Atlanta Police Department via AP)

The demonstrations throughout the week were tense at times, especially the moment where Atlanta police tased two college students in an attempt to get them out of their car. The Saturday night incident in downtown Atlanta was captured on a graphic cellphone video. It shows Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young being shocked with stun guns and arrested even though the couple didn’t appear to be aggressive towards the officers.

The six Atlanta police officers, two of whom have been fired by the city, are also facing criminal charges after using tasers on the two college students.

Murder trial continues… 

Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, and family attorney S. Lee Merritt, left, leave the Glynn County Courthouse after the preliminary hearing of Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William Bryan, on Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Brunswick, Ga. The three men are accused of shooting her son while he ran through their neighborhood in February. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, center, and family attorney S. Lee Merritt, left, leave the Glynn County Courthouse after the preliminary hearing on Thursday, June 4. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

This week we also had a preliminary hearing on murder charges against Travis and Gregory McMichael and William Bryan. A judge in Brunswick ruled the three white men, one a former police officer, will have to face murder charges.  The Arbery case has created significant fallout in Georgia, but only after the graphic video of the killing went viral. Before then, there were no arrests even though authorities knew about the incident.

COVID-19 and demonstrations… 

In an episode of our coronavirus podcast, Did You Wash Your Hands, host Sam Whitehead talks with Dr. Howard Markel, physician and historian of medicine at the University of Michigan. Markel says recent protests and the tactics used to stop them could spread the coronavirus. He says similar situations occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic.

Voting… 

Recent early voting has seen long lines for the June 9 primary. Counties will also have to count more than a million absentee or mail-in ballots. If you are going to the polls on Tuesday, you can find WABE’s breakdown of major races here.