Metro Atlanta police prepare for protests targeting retail locations

Police departments in metro Atlanta on Sunday were preparing for more possible protests that would round out a weekend of demonstrations resulting in hundreds of arrests along with damage to storefronts and shops.

Gwinnett County police, which encountered protesters Saturday at the mall Sugarloaf Mills, said the department is only aware of "the potential for protests" to happen Sunday in Lawrenceville.

“The police department will have an increased presence across the county today and into the night,” spokeswoman officer Ashley Wilson said.

Two police cars were damaged and four people were arrested in Saturday’s protest in Gwinnett, the agency said.

See the AJC’s complete coverage of the Atlanta protests here.

Lawrenceville Mayor David Still told the city’s Facebook followers that police are preparing for the potential of activity to crop up Sunday and into Monday. While Lawrenceville supports the right to protest, Still said those gatherings “must be peaceful and respectful.”

“We will not tolerate any destruction of property or any acts of violence,” the mayor’s message reads. “Therefore, the Lawrenceville Police Department will utilize all resources available to protect our city.”

The bulk of protest activity on Saturday was in Atlanta, where widespread property damage was reported and more than 150 people were arrested. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has extended the city's nighttime curfew to run from 9 p.m. to sunrise on Monday.

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In Alpharetta, officers were on guard Saturday for the possibility that Avalon, the popular mixed-use shopping destination, would be the target of protest activity.

Alpharetta Department of Public Safety officials said Sunday on the agency’s Facebook page that officers worked with Avalon, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and other agencies to stave off any threats of violence.

Spokesperson Jim Cheatham said the department is still “monitoring the situation and are prepared to take steps as needed.”

“As of right now, we do not have any information as to something happening at a location in Alpharetta,” he said. “This could change at any moment and we are monitoring.”

Avalon said Sunday that it didn’t experience any issues, and that the development continues to work with Alpharetta police to prepare for any protests that could make their way to the area.

Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss said the police department has more officers working and the department is working closely with management at Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta in the event protesters show up at the mall.

About 30 people also demonstrated Saturday in downtown, and Moss said those were “peaceful and there were no issues.”