After a string of violence in Atlanta over Independence Day weekend in which an eight-year-old girl was murdered, Gov. Brian Kemp has called out the National Guard to assist in restoring order. Kemp issued an emergency order on Monday that authorized the deployment of 1,000 soldiers to protect state buildings.
Over the holiday weekend, four people were killed and rioters attacked the Department of Public Safety building which houses the headquarters for the Georgia State Patrol with rocks, spray paint, fireworks, and a “homemade grenade.” Among the dead in the city was eight-year-old Secoriea Turner, who was shot and killed when a “group of armed individuals” attacked her mother’s car near the burned-out Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed by police last month.
“Peaceful protests were hijacked by criminals with a dangerous, destructive agenda. Now, innocent Georgians are being targeted, shot, and left for dead,” Kemp told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city.”
The National Guard will be deployed to three locations around Atlanta: The State Capitol, the Governor’s mansion, and the Department of Public Safety building. The capitol and its grounds are home to many relics and statues of Georgia’s Confederate era, which have attracted the attention of vandals and protesters.
Kemp issued another Executive Order in late May at the height of the riots that allowed 1,500 Guardsmen to help Atlanta police patrol the city. The governor’s office said that the deployment was at the request of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Bottoms, who recently tested positive for Coronavirus, denied that such a request was ever made.
“The irony of that is I asked Governor Kemp to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta and he said no,” Bottoms said Tuesday. “But he has called in the National Guard without asking if we need the National Guard.”
Other Democrats criticized Kemp for not going far enough in deploying the troops to protect a limited number of state buildings. State Sen. Nikema Williams, head of the state Democratic Party, said, “His choice to deploy National Guard troops for today’s selfish purpose is outrageous and will endanger lives.”
The AJC reports that at least 93 people have been shot in Atlanta between May 31 and June 27, a time period that roughly spans the first month of the George Floyd protests. That number is approximately double the same time period from 2019.
Even Mayor Bottoms admits that the situation is out of control, saying earlier this week, “This random wild, Wild West shoot-‘em-up because you can, has gotta stop. It has to stop.”
The most basic duty of a city government is to protect its citizens from criminals and violent predators. Mayor Bottoms and the City of Atlanta have failed to do that. The mayor received high marks for her speech on May 31 condemning the rioting, but, more than a month later, violent crime is still high and police morale is very low due to both the anti-police movement and the pandemic.
Kemp is justified in calling out the National Guard. The situation in Atlanta is clearly out of control. I would tend to agree with those who argue that the deployment does not go far enough. If the Atlanta Police Department is unable or unwilling to restore order and protect both state buildings and Georgia’s citizens then the governor has a duty to take action to protect the citizens of his state.
Peaceful protests should be protected but the government needs to crack down on those who are committing violence against innocent Georgians or their property.
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