Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has lowered the city’s curfew that was prompted by recent demonstrations over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd by one hour to 8 p.m. beginning Friday.
Bottoms told the Atlanta City Council on Thursday during a teleconference update on COVID-19 and the recent unrest surrounding Floyd’s death that the 8 p.m. curfew would be extended through Saturday and Sunday.
“We will review where we are at the end of the weekend,” Bottoms said.
Bottoms said she was attempting to set up personal meetings with protesters on Friday or Saturday.
Police Chief Erika Shields told the council that on Friday, May 29, police experienced a new element of extremism that included throwing bricks, Molotov cocktails and knives at officers. The violence is highly organized and separate from the peaceful protests the city to which the city is accustomed, Shields said.
But Shields said there is a lack of local intelligence about who is behind the violence.
She said officers are wrestling with enforcing the curfew because of the stark contrast between the two groups.
“When the curfew sets in, one of the things we struggle with, is that they (the peaceful protesters) don’t understand why they are being forced to leave,” Shields said. “The curfew is across the board, and until we can navigate out of this space where these extremists are assaulting us, we are just going to have to embrace the curfew.”
Of the 500 or so arrests the city has made, roughly 35 percent are individuals from Atlanta, Shields said.
Others are coming in from the suburbs and outside of metro Atlanta. Twelve percent of those arrested are from outside of Georgia.
“We are dealing with a high number individuals we are not accustomed to seeing,” Shields said.
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