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Atlanta protests: On 11th day, Kemp ends National Guard’s involvement

Demonstrators with the Public Defenders for Black Lives rally kneel as they take a moment of silence near the crypt of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King following their rally at Ebenezer Baptist Church during the 11th day of protests in Atlanta. The demonstrators were silent for 8 minutes, to honor the life of George Floyd. (Photo: Alyssa Pointer/AJC)
Demonstrators with the Public Defenders for Black Lives rally kneel as they take a moment of silence near the crypt of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King following their rally at Ebenezer Baptist Church during the 11th day of protests in Atlanta. The demonstrators were silent for 8 minutes, to honor the life of George Floyd. (Photo: Alyssa Pointer/AJC)

After several peaceful days of protests in Atlanta, Gov. Brian Kemp said Monday the National Guard would no longer be needed. The state of emergency order that activated the guard during the first night of looting and unrest will expire at 11:59 p.m., Kemp said.

“I greatly appreciate the men and women of the Georgia National Guard, state and local law enforcement, and all first responders who kept Georgians safe and ensured peaceful demonstrations across our great state. This coordinated team worked tirelessly to protect communities, businesses, and everyone exercising their Constitutional rights,” Kemp said in an emailed statement. “Moving forward, we will continue to monitor activity around the state and remain prepared to respond if necessary.”

PHOTOS: 11th days of protests in Atlanta

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Atlanta protests

Monday was the 11th day for the Atlanta rallies — organized to protest recent killings including George Floyd in Minneapolis. Over the weekend, thousands participated across the metro area in peaceful protests. Atlanta police made no arrests Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Monday afternoon, protesters were marching to the Fulton County jail, carrying signs and chanting. Demonstrators with the Public Defenders for Black Lives rally held a moment of silence near the the crypt of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King following their rally at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Though the recent days of rallies have been relatively calm, it was a very different scene the first two nights of protests in downtown Atlanta and Buckhead. The arrests of two young adults May 30 prompted the firing of two Atlanta officers.

A group of protesters march along Northside Drive, passing Mercedes-Benz Stadium, during the 11th day of protests in Atlanta. (Photo: Alyssa Pointer/AJC)
A group of protesters march along Northside Drive, passing Mercedes-Benz Stadium, during the 11th day of protests in Atlanta. (Photo: Alyssa Pointer/AJC)

Days later, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced criminal charges against six officers after the arrest during the city's curfew crackdown on the second night of protests. Two of the officers were fired after video showed the two pulling the students from a car and shocking them with Tasers. An investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution later determined one of the officers, Willie T. Sauls, had previously faced allegations of using excessive force.

In an interview with Channel 2 Action News, defense attorney Lance LoRusso echoed the thoughts of APD Chief Erika Shields, saying Howard’s motives were political in quickly charging the officers. LoRusso also criticized Howard for building a case around the officers’ use of a Taser.

“It would turn American law enforcement on its ear if we’re going to label a Taser as a deadly weapon,” he said.

— Photojournalist Alyssa Pointer contributed to this report.