Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia has declared a state of emergency and authorized the call-up of as many as 1,000 National Guard troops. The National Guard was activated primarily to provide protection to state buildings like the State Capitol, the Department of Public Safety headquarters, and the Georgia World Congress Center. Troops will also provide protection for the Governor’s Mansion and free up state troopers so they can patrol Atlanta streets amid escalating unrest and violence in the city following the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police last month.
Kemp issued a statement on Monday, saying, “Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, or left for dead.”
This comes just two days after 8-year-old Secoriea Turner was shot and killed by a group of people who had barricaded the street near Rayshard Brooks’ memorial next to the Wendy’s where he died. Brooks was shot and killed by an officer last month after a 911 call was made about a man sleeping in his car in the drive-thru line of a Wendy’s restaurant near downtown Atlanta.
Some have blamed the city for Turner’s death, claiming protesters should not have been allowed to occupy the memorial for so long. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta addressed Turner’s death in a press conference on Sunday, July 5, and called for the violence to end. “Enough is enough,” she said. “You shot and killed a baby! … You can’t blame that on APD.”
Gov. Kemp echoed these sentiments in his July 6 statement, saying, “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city. I have declared a State of Emergency and called up the Georgia Guard because the safety of our citizens comes first. This measure will allow troops to protect state property and dispatch state law enforcement officers to patrol our streets. Enough with the tough talk. We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”
Atlanta has seen a spike in violent crime in the past few weeks. Atlanta police say murders increased by 86 percent over the last 28 days of June when compared against the same period last year. Thirty-one people were shot in 11 separate incidents over the holiday weekend in Atlanta, and the Georgia State Patrol Headquarters also was vandalized.