Video footage published by local news outlet 11Alive showed the troops standing on a street near the building after dark.
Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden Jr., Georgia’s adjutant general, said that the first night of deployment was mostly peaceful. No arrests have been made, and there were no reports of injuries to National Guard troops.
“At the end of the day,” Carden told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are primarily staffed, trained and equipped to protect our nation–our citizens–against foreign adversaries. It is disappointing to me that once again we are having to use our personnel, equipment and training to protect Americans and their property from other Americans.”
Crime and violence are on the rise across the United States, namely in large metropolitan areas, and Atlanta hasn’t been spared. Between May 31 and June 27, around 93 people have been shot in different incidents, while a young girl was killed over the Fourth of July weekend.
During that same weekend, rioters broke the windows of Georgia State Patrol headquarters and attempted to light it on fire.
“The governor has made it clear,” Carden said, “that people are not just going to be able to come by and sling a Molotov cocktail into the Department of Public Safety headquarters and feel like everybody’s going to be OK with it because we are not OK with it.”
“Any time you turn on your street corner and one of us is standing there with a helmet on, you know that some of the social fabric is coming unwound. That is not good for any of us,” he said. “So I am hopeful and prayerful that we get past this and get past it soon.”
Kemp, a Republican, issued the emergency order on Monday evening, allowing for the deployment of up to 1,000 National Guard troops to various sites across Atlanta, including the state patrol headquarters, the capitol, the governor’s mansion, and other sites. He argued it is necessary to free up police from guarding those sites to deal with the citywide spike in crime.
Kemp said that Black Lives Matter protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks have been “hijacked by criminals.”
“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.”
“Enough with the tough talk,” the governor said. “We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”