On the seventh day of protests in Atlanta, two of the city’s top officials made an appearance among the demonstrators.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and police Chief Erika Shields took an “impromptu walk with protesters to show solidarity against racism and injustice,” the city of Atlanta said in a tweet Thursday evening.
With a red and white megaphone in hand, Bottoms addressed the crowd of hundreds, who were gathered to protest police brutality and racism in the wake of the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
“Their lives matter, and I’m out here today to tell you that you all matter to me,” she said, while standing at the intersection of Centennial Olympic Park Drive and Marietta Street.
Bottoms, who recently announced an executive order to establish a commission to examine the city's use-of-force policy for police, said demonstrators must be able to convey their anger and frustration without looting or violence.
“We are in the midst of a movement in this country, but it’s going to be incumbent upon all of us to be able to get together and articulate more than our anger,” she said. “We have to be able to get together and articulate what is our solutions.”
Shields, who did not give a speech to the crowd, has condemned Floyd's killing and interacted with protesters before. However, she admitted Friday night's violence caught her "off-balance," leading to an elevation of police on the streets.
“I stand here today, the 60th Mayor of Atlanta, the direct descendants of slaves in this state because my forefathers believed there was something better on the other side... There is something better on the other side of this.” - Mayor @KeishaBottomspic.twitter.com/7amGBCywF7
Zachary Hansen, a Georgia native, covers economic development and commercial real estate for the AJC. He's been with the newspaper since 2018 and enjoys diving into complex stories that affect people's lives.