Protests across metro Atlanta continued Monday, with the city of Lawrenceville declaring a state of emergency and implementing a 9 p.m. curfew to try to keep the peace.
It’s the second metro city to do so, after Atlanta. Protests have spread nationwide following the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died in police custody on May 25. Derek Chauvin, a fired police Minneapolis officer, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin was captured on video with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
In Atlanta, where protests started Friday, the 9 p.m. curfew first went into place Saturday night after people set cars on fire, smashed windows and looted downtown. Peaceful protests occurred in Lawrenceville Sunday night, but City Manager Chuck Warbington said he implemented the Monday curfew after seeing a second group of people throw rocks and spit at police officers after the first protest ended. Lawrenceville closed its City Hall at 3 p.m.
“These are people who are taking advantage of the situation, using it for anarchy and disruption, and that won’t be tolerated here,” he said.
Warbington and Police Chief Tim Wallis were in touch with protesters who planned a Monday afternoon event. Organizers said city officials welcomed plans for a peaceful protest. But Warbington said there would be little leeway after 9 p.m.
“We’re going to maintain control here,” he said.
The city posted its curfew on social media accounts. A Lawrenceville spokesperson said she planned to use the city’s text message capabilities to inform residents. Lawrenceville, in Gwinnett County, is enlisting the help of other nearby cities as well as county deputies to ensure people follow the new rule.
Lt. Jake Parker said five people were arrested Sunday; at least three were charged with disorderly conduct. He said the first group of protesters numbered about 70, but a later group of about 180 people threw rocks at police cars and entered the street.
“The original group wasn’t going to produce any problems,” he said. “Our biggest concern is the after party, so to speak.”
Parker said some signs indicated that people were skinheads or members of antifa, both groups that “raised red flags.”
“Their message gives you an indication that they’re trying to stir up trouble,” he said.
At the start of the Monday protest, roughly 200 people gathered at City Hall. Police had blocked off some downtown streets and many of the demonstrators held up signs and their fists toward passing traffic. Some cars beeped in support.
Daylin Reyes, who lives in Midtown, said she had participated in the Atlanta protests beginning Saturday, but might make her way to Lawrenceville on Monday night “if that’s where the voices are.” Reyes, who is from Cuba, said she worries about injustice and the loss of freedom. She said she planned to go home when the curfew started.
“I love this city and I don’t want it torn to the ground, but things have to change,” she said.
Among the demands of protesters are an end to police brutality, greater police accountability and hate crime legislation.
Jesse Wormington, who had never attended a protest before, was on his way to Lawrenceville to support friends who had helped organize Monday’s gathering. Wormington, a white Dunwoody resident who just bought a house in Lawrenceville, and said he felt strongly about the need to participate.
“I want to stand in solidarity,” he said. “I need to be part of the change.”
Protests also occurred in Marietta Monday, where between 75 and 100 people marched from Laurel Park on Manning Road to Glover Park on Marietta Square. The demonstration followed a spontaneous protest held Sunday in Marietta as well as another march held in Kennesaw.
And another protest was scheduled Monday afternoon for the Gwinnett County city of Sugar Hill, organized by local students. City Manager Paul Redford said Sugar Hill closed City Hall and the gym at 4 p.m., posting signs in the windows. Some members of city council plan to be at the event to welcome participants. He said there is no curfew in that city. Other Gwinnett cities also said they had no plans to implement curfews, but would be monitoring events.
Staff writers Kristal Dixon and Amanda C. Coyne contributed to this story.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.
Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.