Georgia Governor Kemp Declares State of Emergency, Mobilizes National Guard over ‘Cop City’ Riots
Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed an emergency order Thursday declaring a 15-day state of emergency and mobilizing up to 1,000 National Guard troops in response to leftist violence that gripped the city over the weekend.
“Georgians respect peaceful protests, but do not tolerate acts of violence against persons or property,” Governor Kemp asserted in the order.
Protests “turned violent in downtown Atlanta as masked activist threw rocks, launched fireworks, and burned a police vehicle in front of the Atlanta Police Foundations office building,” Kemp’s added in the executive order.
Six Antifa extremists were charged with counts of domestic terrorism by the Atlanta police following Saturday’s riot.
Five of the accused came from out of state. One of them, Francis Carroll, was reportedly out on bail for another charge of domestic terrorism and is a descendant of a wealthy Maine family, according to investigative reporter Andy Ngo.
Georgia @GovKemp is declaring a state of emergency after the violent protests this weekend surrounding the Atlanta public safety center. The order authorizes him to deploy up to 1,000 National Guard troops. #gapol pic.twitter.com/4mFWw56hoM
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) January 26, 2023
Protesters were originally drawn to Atlanta to march in memory of Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (“Tortuguita”), a climate activist killed earlier in the week.
Terán was part of an environmental outfit seeking to block the construction of a new $90 million Atlanta police training facility in a wooded area of DeKalb County. The group dubbed their campaign “Stop Cop City.”
The events surrounding Terán’s lethal encounter with police remain contested. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation asserts that Terán shot at law enforcement, prompting police to return fire and kill him.
However, Terán’s mother, Belkis, challenged the state’s narrative that her son initiated the violence. “I’m convinced that he was assassinated in cold blood,” Belkis told The Guardian.
The group remained committed to violent tactics.
“Destruction of material is fundamentally different from violence. All reported acts appear to be explicitly targeted against the financial backers & goons of the Atlanta Police Foundation, a shady nonprofit that funnels weapons and military gear into our city to wage war on black and brown folks,” a spokesperson for the anti-police campaign told a local Atlanta news station.
ATLANTA RIOT: More images from downtown Atlanta tonight after a “Cop City” protest became a riot. A number of businesses were vandalized and a City of Atlanta Police Department Vehicle was set ablaze. Continued coverage on @FOX5Atlanta #breaking #news #atl #atlantaprotest pic.twitter.com/GJHNtQYf3T
— Billy Heath III (@BillyHeathFOX5) January 22, 2023
The Antifa riots in Atlanta coincided with a similar incident in Boston which saw protesters vandalize the Boston Common and assault a police officer on Saturday night. During the riot, the son of House minority whip Katherine Clark (D., Mass.) was arrested.
Since returning to office following a healthy electoral mandate, Governor Kemp has taken a strong stance on public safety, pushing for limits on cashless bail and labeling violent demonstrators as terrorists.
The executive order also comes as a precautionary measure as Georgia police authorities closely monitor the developing situation in Memphis following the death of Tyre Nichols, a black man, at the hands of Memphis police. Bodycam footage from the incident, which featured several black cops, is expected to be released Friday.
The emergency order expires on February 9.