Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden praised Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for her “incredible” response to days of civil unrest, singling her out during a Monday forum with other mayors for her passionate plea asking demonstrators to go home.
“You’ve been incredible. I’ve watched you like millions and millions of Americans have on television of late,” Biden said. “Your passion, your composure, your balance has been really incredible.”
Bottoms held up Atlanta as a model for other cities, as protests swept across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. Biden and the mayors appeared to be taking notes when Bottoms spoke about at-risk youth centers in Atlanta where officers volunteer.
“They’re establishing these relationships with these kids outside of chasing them down the block,” Bottoms said.
Demonstrators first took to Atlanta streets Friday, protesting the unjustified police killings of black people — including Breonna Taylor, a black woman shot eight times and killed in March when Louisville police knocked down her door to serve a search warrant.
Through chants and signs, people also demanded justice for Ahmaud Arbery, a black man whose filmed killing in a Brunswick-area neighborhood sparked national outrage.
After a peaceful start, the Friday protest turned chaotic, with police deploying tear gas and cars set ablaze amid broken shop windows. Supported by National Guard members on Saturday and Sunday, police took a more aggressive strategy, leading to a weekend of arrests.
“I’m struggling for words because there’s so many layers to this that we’re trying to figure out in real time with our communities,” Bottoms said.
Shortly before the roundtable, President Donald Trump scorned “weak” governors, telling them they “have to get much tougher” on demonstrators.
Bottoms, who was repeatedly critical of the president over the weekend, fired back.
“To see the president of the United States say that he’s going to send the military into our communities but hasn’t mentioned sending a single dime of support into our communities speaks to where we are in America,” Bottoms said.
AJC reporter Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.
Ben Brasch is the reporter tasked with keeping Fulton County government accountable. The Florida native moved to Atlanta for a job with The AJC. If there's something important to you going on in Fulton, he wants to know about it. Help him better metro Atlanta by dropping a line, anonymously or otherwise.