On Thursday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency and activated 1,000 National Guard troops in response to ongoing violent protests in downtown Atlanta. The state of emergency is in effect until February 9th, unless renewed by the governor. The protests center around the building of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, also known as “Cop City.”
The situation escalated on January 18th, when a protestor, identified as Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, was shot and killed by law enforcement during a planned multi-agency operation to remove protestors from the area. The authorities said that prior to being killed, Paez Teran had shot and wounded a Georgia state trooper. The trooper was hospitalized and survived.
On January 21st, six people were arrested after protests at “Cop City” led to property damage and a police vehicle being set on fire. Some of the arrested protestors were found with explosives, according to Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens. No one was injured.
In his declaration of the state of emergency, Governor Kemp specifically referenced the burnt police car and said, “Georgians respect peaceful protests, but do not tolerate acts of violence against persons or property.” The state of emergency declaration authorizes the Georgia National Guard to be used in response to continued protests. Activated troops will have “the same powers of arrest and apprehension as do law enforcement officers.”
The Atlanta Police Department also stated that they are closely monitoring events in Memphis, where protests have erupted following the death of Tyre Nichols during a violent traffic stop. Five officers involved in the arrest were charged with second-degree murder on Thursday. The video footage of the arrest is expected to be released on Friday afternoon. The department also emphasized that they are prepared to support peaceful protests in the city and that “police officers are expected to conduct themselves in a compassionate, competent, and constitutional manner.”
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