Atlanta protests: Police made no arrests during 8th day of demonstrations

Several protesters moved into Midtown and Viriginia-Highland after Atlanta's curfew went into effect Friday.



Several protesters moved into Midtown and Viriginia-Highland after Atlanta's curfew went into effect Friday.

As large protests continue for the eighth day in Atlanta, the city is hopeful this Friday's demonstrations end in a more peaceful fashion than last Friday's devolution into violence and looting.

PHOTO GALLERY: Eighth day of protests

In an effort to keep the peace after sundown, the city has moved up its evening curfew to 8 p.m., which will set a pattern for the weekend. There are exceptions, such as those waiting in lines for the last day of early voting before Tuesday's primary elections.

MORE: Atlanta Mayor Bottoms: Curfew starts hour earlier at 8 p.m. today

Thursday's protests ended with a scant six arrests, which pales in comparison to the hundreds of protest-related arrests Atlanta has seen in the past week.

Sparked by the deaths of George FloydBreonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, there were demonstrations planned in downtown Atlanta, Decatur, Kennesaw, Roswell and other metro Atlanta cities.

RELATED: Dozens call for closure of Wildman's Confederate memorabilia store in Kennesaw

Protesters gathered at the Capitol in Atlanta on Friday morning.

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At the same time, health officials and experts are voicing concerns that the large gatherings could reinvigorate the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia.

RELATED: 532 arrests made through 8 days of Atlanta protests

Dr. Jay Varkey, associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, said Friday that he won’t discourage people from protesting, but he heavily recommended wearing masks, eye protection and using hand sanitizer frequently.

Protesters voice their opinions with signs Friday in Atlanta.

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Here are minute-by-minute updates from Friday’s protests:

10:50 p.m.: Atlanta police just announced that not a single arrest was made during Friday's protests. During the past seven days, police made 532 arrests, putting Friday's lack of arrests in stark contrast.

MORE: 532 arrests made through 8 days of Atlanta protests

10 p.m.: The eighth day of protests has come to a peaceful end, with downtown Atlanta crowds clearing out quickly and a few stragglers remaining out past curfew in Midtown and Virginia-Highland.

About an hour past curfew, a group made their way through residential neighborhoods in Midtown.


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Atlanta police should provide information on Friday’s arrests, if there were any, later Friday night or Saturday morning.

9:15 p.m.: While the police presence in Midtown and the Virginia-Highland area remains thin, one prominent law enforcement officer was visible: Chief Erika Shields.

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields went to Midtown on Friday night to check out things after curfew.

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Atlanta’s police chief was spotted along Briarcliff Road in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood. It’s unclear why she’s in the area, or if it’s due to the hundreds of protesters making their way through that section of Atlanta more than an hour after curfew.

9 p.m.: The group moving along the Beltline has made it past Krog Street Market. There still has not been any sign of police along the walking path.

8:45 p.m.: With sunset nearing, a few hundred protesters remain in Midtown, making their way along the Beltline and nearby surface streets.

Despite it being an hour after curfew, police presence appears to be small, but units are beginning to move into the area.

About 200 people are on the Beltline, and there doesn’t appear to be a sign of police along the popular walking path at the moment. Most police officers in the area seem to be moving through neighborhoods and surface streets in the Piedmont Park area.

8:30 p.m.: A half-hour after the city's curfew went into effect, a group of about 200 remains in Midtown and is moving along the Beltline toward Ponce City Market, while other protesters move through nearby neighborhoods.

There are police along Cooledge Avenue, near the southern portion of Piedmont Park. It’s unclear if there’s a large police presence at Ponce City Market or along the Beltline at some point.

8:20 p.m.: There are only about 20 protesters left in downtown Atlanta, and police officers' patience appears to be running thin. It is 20 minutes after the city's curfew went into effect.

“We’re at the point where they’re going to take away any discretion from us, because we’re way past 8 o’clock,” an officer warns the group of stragglers.

8:15 p.m.: With a sizable group remaining in Midtown, a portion of the crowd is making its way onto the Beltline. Police presence in the area is still thin to nonexistent.

8:05 p.m.: The scene in downtown Atlanta has mostly cleared out, with only a handful of straggling protesters remaining on the streets.

Officers and guardsmen have begun to break their line to begin sweeping the streets near Centennial Olympic Park.

However, the bulk of protesters who did not go home have moved into Midtown, where they’ve crowded into Piedmont Park.

8 p.m.: In the past hour, crowds have thinned from more than 1,000 to a few dozen downtown. Members of the National Guard and officers with riot gear have moved closer to the barricade set up near Centennial Olympic Park Drive.

However, the scene in Piedmont Park is quite different, with a large crowd still moving around the Midtown park. Police presence in the area remains low, and it’s unclear when officers and guardsmen will move into the area.

7:50 p.m.: With 10 minutes to go until the curfew, several large groups remain in Atlanta.

Near Centennial Olympic Park, a hundred or so protesters remain near the police barricade. Chants have not stopped.

“Why they have on riot gear,” a woman asks to replies of, “We don’t see no riot here.”

A few hundred people, who began near the park, have made their way to Piedmont Park in Midtown. With a small police presence in the area, the crowd is chanting about their displeasure with the upcoming curfew.

It’s unclear if the group plans to head back to downtown Atlanta, where there’s a much larger visible police presence.

7:35 p.m.: With less than 30 minutes left until Atlanta's curfew goes into effect, groups are still marching throughout downtown and Midtown.

Others are quoting the most famous civil rights leader in Atlanta history: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A man holding a microphone near Hudson Grille off Peachtree Street was seen reciting MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech from memory.

7:25 p.m.: The Georgia National Guard tweeted a video showing several of its guardsmen interacting and talking to protesters in Atlanta. The conversations ended in handshakes, hugs or thumbs up. 

So far, Friday’s protests have remained peaceful across the city, with tense moments being few and far between.

7:15 p.m.: As the last hour of protesting ticks away before the 8 p.m. curfew, several people remain out to voice their opposition to police brutality and racism. Felisha Carpenter said she brought her 18-year-old son to show him that he matters as much as "his white counterpart."

Carpenter added that she's a nurse, so she hopes police officers are held to the same level of accountability as people in her profession.

“If I mess up and give someone the wrong medicine, I’m held accountable,” she said. “My license is on the line.”

7:08 p.m.: Joining a growing number of sports teams across the nation, the Atlanta Hawks released a statement denouncing systemic racism and vowing to do more to be "part of the solution."

Hawks owner Tony Ressler said the team would devote its resources to bringing about change.

“This is a time when all of us need to focus on this critical and all too pervasive human issue — systemic racism,” Ressler said. “To be as blunt as possible on this topic of dignity, decency and progress, I emphatically believe that you are either part of the solution or you are the problem. Black lives matter. There is no in-between.”

7 p.m.: With Atlanta's 8 p.m. curfew fast approaching, more than 1,000 demonstrators remain downtown. The curfew will go into effect well before the sun sets Friday, which should take place about 8:45 p.m.

Large groups remain marching and protesting in downtown Atlanta as the city's 8 p.m. curfew approaches Friday.


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The largest group remains near Centennial Olympic Park, but a few smaller packs are moving throughout the city.

Several protesters are still near Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and many of them have begun to break out trash bags to clean up during the last hour of legal protesting.

6:35 p.m.: Atlanta police tweeted an update on Officer Maximilian "Max" Brewer, who was seriously injured by an alleged drunken driver on an ATV over the weekend.

MORE: Atlanta protests: Man who struck officer with ATV charged with DUI

The department said the injured officer, who remains at Grady Memorial Hospital, is in “good spirits,” adding that the city council surprised him with balloons Friday.

GoFundMe page was created for the 18-year police veteran. It has raised more than $167,000.

6:30 p.m.: While more than 1,000 protesters have gathered downtown, a small group of about 100 remain near Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The group camped outside, watching police and the National Guard across a barricade. Police have the road blocked since it’s being used as a staging area.

Protesters insisted they wanted to march back to Centennial Olympic Park the way they had come earlier in the afternoon.

“We don’t want them dictating our protest,” Aminah Vuyelwa Williams of Atlanta, one of the organizers, said. “That’s them managing our protest.”

Despite the frustration, the protesters remained fairly subdued, with things remaining peaceful.

A group of about 100 people remain near Mercedes-Benz Stadium during Friday afternoon's protests.

Credit: Ben Gray for the AJC

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Credit: Ben Gray for the AJC

6:10: p.m.: A group of nurses met at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park this afternoon to protest, drawing a few dozen participants.

Nearby, a group of Atlanta Public Schools students met near Magnolia Hall, where some were seen getting emotional during chants and speeches.

Audrey Grice becomes emotional while relaying a personal story to the crowd during Teens Looking For Change rally at Piedmont Park.

Credit: Steve Schaefer for the AJC

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Credit: Steve Schaefer for the AJC

Speaking of education, a school bus along Auburn Avenue will need a new paint job before fall classes begin. Several protesters spray painted all over it, including expletives, George Floyd’s name and messages against President Donald Trump.

6:03 p.m.: Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted that he's grateful to those who are working around the clock to ensure peaceful protests in Atlanta and enforce the nightly curfew, which is 8 p.m. Friday.

5:50 p.m.: It appears the crowds are being allowed to co-mingle again after a brief blockage was built between Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Centennial Olympic Park.

Police briefly blocked crowds from moving between Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Centennial Olympic Park.

Credit: Ben Gray for the AJC

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Credit: Ben Gray for the AJC

Officers with riot shields were seen putting on gas masks for a few minutes before taking them back off. The latter was met with cheers from the crowd.

Among the crowd is a child named Jayda, who is marching on her 53-year-old grandmother’s behalf.

She’s holding a sign that says: "My grandmother asked me to march in honor of Andre Moore. He was killed at the age of 15 in 1970 by a white Atlanta police officer that was never brought to justice. No justice. No peace."

Jayda is marching on her 53-year-old grandmother’s behalf.

Credit: Sarah Kallis for the AJC

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Credit: Sarah Kallis for the AJC

5:30 p.m.: Atlanta city officials tweeted that protesters can receive free COVID-19 testing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Chosewood Arts Complex. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she took one Friday.

5:20 p.m.: While Atlanta police's downtown presence has been minimal so far, authorities separated two groups of protesters near Centennial Olympic Park. The brief blockade, which wasn't well received by demonstrators, prompted chants.

A group outside of Mercedes-Benz Stadium confronted officers when they tried to march back to Centennial Olympic Park, only to be blocked.

“We didn’t come here to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘yes ma’am’ to every order you command,” one protester told an officer.

However, tensions have not risen significantly, with the protest remaining peaceful.

Groups of demonstrators gathered late Friday afternoon as protests continued in downtown Atlanta.

Credit: Ben Gray for the AJC

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Credit: Ben Gray for the AJC

5:05 p.m.: A group of nearly 200 Roswell High School alumni and students met in downtown Roswell near city hall to protest.

The group began with a moment of silence totaling about 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the length of time a Minneapolis police officer was seen on video with his knee on George Floyd's neck, leading to his death, according to an autopsy report.

RELATED: Family autopsy says Floyd died of asphyxia from neck, back compression

The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired and faces a second-degree murder charge. Three other officers, who were also fired, also face charges.

4:50 p.m.: Some people have turned the protest into a family affair, such as Abraham Malobe. With a marching snare at his waist, his family trekked between Atlanta City Hall and Centennial Olympic Park, where the crowd is beginning to come together.

“We all don't need to love each other,” Malobe said, with his four kids at his side. “Some black people don't like white people. Some white people don't like black people. But the justice system should be equal.”

The crowd, which consisted of a few dozen people earlier in the 4 o'clock hour, has grown to more than 100 people, blocking the intersection at Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Marietta Street, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center. Drivers are advised to avoid downtown.

4:35 p.m.: Near Centennial Park, 24-year-old Janay Israel brought a sign featuring a birthday cake for Breonna Taylor, since today would've been the Louisville woman's 27th birthday.

“I’m absolutely excited for the way the community has come together to build this movement and George Floyd was the spark for that,” Israel said. “But I do wish they would focus on a woman as well.”

She added that she’d like the government to defund police and direct more money to lower-income communities.

Taylor, a black woman, was shot eight times by police March 13, and the investigation into her death was reopened this week.The city's police chief was fired during the recent protests after two officers failed to turn on their body cameras during a deadly after-curfew shooting.

MORE: Louisville police chief fired after deadly shooting during protests

The crowd at Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Marietta Street remains small at the moment, but the group has some groove due to a drum line performing in the intersection.

4:05 p.m.: Within the past 30 minutes, several hundred people marched along Centennial Olympic Park Drive while chanting in unison. The group then moved along Mitchell Street, in the direction of the state Capitol.

The first among the group to arrive near the Gold Dome took a knee outside Atlanta City Hall, as the rest of the protesters caught up.

3:45 p.m.: Dr. Jay Varkey, associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, said he understands why so many people, even during a pandemic, would feel compelled to protest.

During a media briefing with reporters Friday, Varkey recognized there is a danger of spreading the virus at these gatherings, but he would not discourage people from attending the protests and exercising their right to free speech.

“If we are going to be honest, we need to acknowledge racism didn’t stop during the pandemic,” Varkey said. “It is important we acknowledge the very reason and constitutional right for people to assemble, especially in the threat of ongoing racism and its impact in disparate and unequal action on the part of law enforcement. What I have told people who want to apply their constitutional right to assemble is to do it safely.”

Protesters take a knee Friday for eight minutes and 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd "and countless others" in a demonstration called White Coats for Black Lives at Emory University.

Credit: Hyosub Shin

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Credit: Hyosub Shin

He recommends protesters take steps to lower the risk of exposure, such as wearing masks and either goggles or glasses, and to bring hand sanitizer. Varkey said he was also concerned about the use of tear gas and other irritants, saying they can damage the body in ways that can spread the coronavirus and increase the severity of COVID-19.

For example, people in a cloud of smoke would be more likely to touch their eyes, a portal for coronavirus. He also said it’s important to recognize that although COVID-19 is a major public health threat it would be “disingenuous to not recognize structural racism is a public health threat.”

He said blacks are more likely to develop COVID-19, be treated in later stages of the illness and suffer more complications, including death. Even before the pandemic, Varkey said there were significant health inequities with African Americans facing increased levels of diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension and other health woes.

The demonstration was held Friday at Emory University in Decatur.


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3:30 p.m.: A group of roughly 200 people has gathered outside of Centennial Olympic Park. In some ways, the scene looks more like a party than a protest, with demonstrators dancing to songs such as Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" and Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror."

“We want this to be a celebration,” said Sergio Tuberquia, a Georgia State University student who helped lead the singing. “We want this to be a celebration of life.”

Sergio Tuberquia

Credit: David Wickert

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Credit: David Wickert

Several members of the Georgia National Guard are in the park, but Atlanta police presence is minimal at the moment. The guardsmen were deployed through an executive order by Gov. Brian Kemp, which declared a state of emergency through the weekend.

Some soldiers are conversing with the crowd. One guardsman, in a photo by Channel 2 Action News, is seen resting on a fence in the park as he talks to a protester holding a “Ni Uno Mas” sign. The sign translates to “Not one more” in English.

— Staff writers Helena Oliviero, Adrianne Murchison and Shaddi Abusaid contributed to this article.