The Democratic mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, said she does not agree with Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard.
“The irony of that is that I asked Gov. Kemp to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta … but he has called in the National Guard without asking if we needed the National Guard,” Bottoms said in an interview on Tuesday morning.
Kemp, a Republican, made the emergency declaration on Monday evening after an especially violent weekend across Atlanta that left a young girl and others dead.
The governor argued that it was necessary to deploy up to 1,000 National Guard troops to secure certain buildings, including the governor’s mansion, the state capitol, the Department of Public Safety headquarters, and the Georgia World Congress Center. He added that the troops will free up state troopers from those locations to patrol the streets of Atlanta.
“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” Kemp said in a statement on Monday. “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.”
But Bottoms insisted in the interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” that her office has “been coordinating with the Georgia State Patrol … and we have provided assistance to them, and they have provided assistance to us.”
“At no time was it mentioned that anyone felt that there was a need for the National Guard to come here,” she said.
Kemp said that he had to declare an emergency “because the safety of our citizens comes first,” while later adding that it will “allow troops to protect state property and dispatch state law enforcement officers to patrol our streets. ”
“Enough with the tough talk,” the Republican governor concluded. “We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”
Across Atlanta over the July 4 weekend, around 31 people were shot and five people died, including an 8-year-old girl. The Georgia State Patrol headquarters were also vandalized by protesters over the same time period, officials said.
“They were armed with bricks, landscaping bricks, Molotov cocktails, fireworks. Their one mission was to destruct property and that is exactly what they did,” Lt. Stephanie L. Stallings, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, told WSB-TV.
She said that between 60 and 100 vandals dressed in dark clothing came to the headquarters in the early-morning hours to cause havoc.