Police: 23 arrested at Atlanta protest over Jacob Blake decision

Credit: Christian Boone

Credit: Christian Boone

Officers arrested 23 protesters Wednesday night in downtown Atlanta, according to police.

The protesters gathered near Centennial Olympic Park one day after a Wisconsin prosecutor announced he would not file charges against an officer who shot a Black man over the summer, leaving him paralyzed.

Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times Aug. 23 by Officer Rusten Sheskey, who is white. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley declined to prosecute Sheskey.

The shooting, which was captured on bystander video, turned the nation’s spotlight on Wisconsin during a summer marked by protests over police brutality.

Officers in Atlanta clashed Wednesday night with a group of about 30 protesters chanting in the street near the intersection of Andrew Young International Boulevard and Ted Turner Drive. A police supervisor gave the order to disperse the crowd about 9:15 p.m. after a rock was thrown at a patrol vehicle, according to arrest reports obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The supervisor “advised arresting officers to start making arrest(s) because the group was violent, was in the roadway and disregarded the verbal order,” one report said.

When officers approached the group, police said they all locked arms and rushed to the sidewalk. Some of the protesters were taken to the ground.

The 23 people arrested ranged in age from 19 to 45, and all but two were from metro Atlanta, including one Emory University student from Connecticut. Ten were women.

All were arrested on misdemeanor charges of obstructing traffic, and the man accused of throwing a rock was also charged with inciting a riot and possessing a concealed firearm. Other protesters were found with pepper spray, and one had a handgun with two fully loaded magazines.

The local protests came after a day of riots at the U.S. Capitol shook the nation. Supporters of President Donald Trump protested the certification of Electoral College results, both in Washington and in Atlanta. A gathering of about 60 protesters outside the Georgia Capitol earlier in the day remained “peaceful,” authorities said, and no arrests were made.

The Southern Center for Human Rights, a civil rights organization, released a statement highlighting the perceived different responses to the riots at the U.S. Capitol and the Jacob Blake protest in Atlanta.

“When communities protest against anti-Black violence, they are met with police brutality. But when white insurrectionists hijack the United States Capitol and demand the overturning of a valid election, they are met with police patience,” part of the statement read.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.