Protesters blocked traffic at the epicenter of Buckhead shopping, causing severe traffic backup on Saturday afternoon when thousands of holiday shoppers were out buying gifts.
Saying they were protesting police violence, roughly 70 demonstrators convened just after 3 p.m. at the intersection of Peachtree and Lenox Roads, right between two of the area’s most popular malls, Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza in Buckhead.
Some were lying in the busy street while others used banners to block the four sides of the intersection, shouting “No justice, no peace” and other chants.
The protest by the group called Rise Up Georgia came on the last Saturday shopping day before Christmas. Demonstrators said they were protesting “the killing of unarmed black men and children by police,” and called for community policing and more autonomy for citizen review boards over law enforcement.
Organizer Tim Franzen said it “was about bringing this right to folks who have been otherwise able to ignore it…. If that inconveniences some people out shopping, then I hope that they would keep in mind that black folks walk around with a target on their back every day.”
But Takeyla Presley, who was shopping at Lenox and got stuck in the traffic backup, said that while she disagrees with the way police shootings were handled, “I don’t think they should hold up traffic because of that…. I feel that there’s a time and a place for everything.”
Frustrated motorists honked their horns and sought to get through the congestion using right-turn lanes and going around the protesters.
Police dispersed the protesters blocking the traffic with banners after about 20 minutes, and were able to box in those remaining with a buffer of police cars to allow some traffic to move through the intersection.
But about eight protesters remained lying in the street, their arms secured together with “lock boxes,” and organizers said those protesters planned to remain there until they were cut loose.
Atlanta firefighters arrived before 4 p.m. and begin trying to disassemble the pieces of pipe locking the protesters together.
It wasn’t until about 4:40 p.m. that the intersection was completely cleared, 90 minutes after protesters first arrived at the intersection.
Protesters blocking the middle of the intersection were taken into custody, along with several others. The Atlanta Police Department said a total of about 13 were arrested.
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