Gov. Kemp Addresses Turbulent George Floyd Protest in Atlanta

The Governor says, "violence and destruction is unacceptable."

Amanda Cooper
June 02, 2020 - 4:04 pm

Governor Brian P. Kemp and state officials gave a media briefing Monday addressing the protest in across Atlanta over the murder of George Floyd, the use of local, state, and national law enforcement and an update on the fight against COVID-19. Over the weekend, thousands gathered at Centennial Park Friday afternoon for a peaceful protest over the murder of George Floyd, Ahumaud Arberty, and other countless unarmed men and women of color who have been murdered by the police.

Protesters Damage CNN Bldg_10_Amanda Cooper.jpg
(Photo Credit: Amanda Cooper/RADIO.COM)

Protesters Damage CNN Bldg_6_Amanda Cooper.jpg
(Photo Credit: Amanda Cooper/RADIO.COM)

Throughout the day, the tone became more aggressive and what began as a peaceful protest metamorphized into utter chaos. Protesters set police cars on fire, damaged property, busted windows, and looted stores throughout downtown and Buckhead.

1-george floyd protest day 2 26.JPG
(Photo Credit: Amanda Cooper/RADIO.COM)

1-george floyd protest day 1.JPG
(Photo Credit: Amanda Cooper/RADIO.COM)

1-george floyd protest-17.JPG
(Photo Credit: Amanda Cooper/RADIO.COM)

Protesters stormed the CNN building after defacing the media company's sign. 

Protesters Damage CNN Bldg_3_Amanda Cooper.jpg
(Photo Credit: Amanda Cooper/RADIO.COM)

Protesters Damage CNN Bldg_1_Amanda Cooper.jpg
(Photo Credit: Amanda Cooper/RADIO.COM)

The lawlessness continued throughout the wee hours of the night, leaving the local and state police officers completely overwhelmed. This resulted in 1,500 National Guardsmen called to active duty to help take back the streets of Atlanta.

During the media briefing, Governor Kemp acknowledged Georgians' pain and confusion, saying, "People are hurting, and we have more questions than answers. I support the right to peacefully protest, to honor the life of George Floyd, to demand action. As the cradle of the Civil Rights movement, this is a place where peaceful protests ultimately shook up the status quo. The birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this is a city where his legacy looms, urging us to seek justice, love mercy, and treat each other fairly with kindness and respect. What started as a peaceful protest on Friday ended in violence and destruction. A powerful moment was ultimately corrupted by some with a different agenda."

The "different agenda" Kemp referenced is a group of protestors that President Trump identified as ANTIFA. According to the Anti-Defamation League, ANTIFA is a violent counter-protesters group consisting of a loose collection of various groups, networks, and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements. 

Protesters Damage CNN Bldg_9_Amanda Cooper.jpg
(Photo Credit: Amanda Cooper/RADIO.COM)

Across the US, government officials have been warning of the outsider groups of organized rioters they say are flooding into major cities not to call for justice but to cause destruction. In a tweet, President Trump says the US "will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization."

Kemp expressed his outraged and boldly announced, "Violence and destruction is unacceptable, and we will continue to do our part - in conjunction with local leaders - to plan, mobilize, and respond appropriately to threats that undermine our safety. We will do what's necessary to keep the peace."

In Brunswick, Gregory and Travis McMichael will appear for preliminary hearings on Thursday following their arrests for the death of Ahmaud Arbery. The father and son team were arrested in April after a video went viral showing Travis McMichael shot and killed Arbery in February. According to the police report, Gregory McMichael claims that there were reports of a robbery in the neighborhood, and Arbery fit the suspect's description. McMichael's claims he and his son were making a citizen's arrest ultimately shooting and killing Arbery who was unarmed at the time and jogging in the neighborhood

During the briefing of the republican governor, he reiterated his no-nonsense stance  with protesters saying, "we will take appropriate action to hold bad actors accountable if they try to infiltrate peaceful gatherings to cause chaos." He continued saying, "Let me be clear: we will not tolerate disruptive, dangerous behavior or criminal conduct. We will put the safety of Georgians first."

Kemp also urged all Georgians who were participating in the demonstrations - to get tested for COVID-19 immediately. He ended saying, "We're in this fight together - the fight against COVID-19, the fight to revive our economy, and the fight to ensure liberty and justice for all. Please pray for our state and country. Pray for peace and for a better, brighter tomorrow."

Starting on Friday, thousands have gathered for five days to protest the murder of Georg Floyd, and it is believed that more protests will continue this week in Georgia.