The Atlanta Police Department made 43 additional arrests on the night of June 3 as protests over the murder of George Floyd continued around the metro area.
As protesters marched to the State Capitol, through Midtown, and gathered at Centennial Park in Downtown and the courthouse square in Decatur, the four former Minneapolis police offers involved in Floyd’s death were charged in the case. Closer to home, six APD officers were charged in an excessive force case against two college students.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the City of Atlanta would accept a challenge from former President Barrack Obama to examine its use-of-force policies in policing. Bottoms said on Twitter last night she would issue an executive order establishing a commission of stakeholders and organizers to examine the city’s use of force policies and “call upon them to make recommendations accordingly.”
With protests showing no signs of letting up, Bottoms extended the nighttime curfew until sunrise on Monday, June 8. Starting Friday, the curfew moves up an hour to begin at 8 p.m. in an attempt to quell the type of unrest seen last weekend, which included looting, vandalism, and arson.
However, the ongoing narrative being spun by law enforcement and officials in Atlanta and nationwide that “outsiders” and “disruptors” – such as white supremacists and far-right or far-left organizations – are the cause of the violence were not borne out by arrest reports released by APD on Wednesday.
Of the 425 protesters arrested by APD between May 29 and June 1, only 51 came from outside Georgia. Records indicate that 223 of those arrested either lived in Atlanta or in the immediate suburbs such as Decatur, Marietta, and Stone Mountain. Arrest records from Tuesday and Wednesday are still pending.
Those figures contradict the “outside agitator” narrative being spun by law enforcement both here and across the country. The destruction caused during protests has been blamed on white supremacists, far-right organizations, and far-left movements like Antifa.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields blamed the destructive weekend protests on anarchists and a “highly calculated terrorist organization,” while Bottoms labeled the people involved as “disruptors” who had come to the city to cause chaos.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds said Tuesday that he had seen intelligence that outside agitators from “various groups” and “certain organizations” were involved in the looting, and arson during the protests in Atlanta over the weekend.
“We are convinced there are individuals here from around the country bent on violence and destruction,” Reynold said. “Officers and agents have seen it.”
However, he was not prepared to identify the organizations or individuals by name.
Experts and scholars are wary of the “outside agitator” narrative because it has been historically used to delegitimize protests, distracts from the underlying causes, and justifies violence against protesters, according to a report at CNN.
Still, questions linger.
Media on the ground witnessed protesters arriving and leaving flashpoints with out-of-state or obscured license plates. Social media was buzzing, not only in Atlanta but around the country, that agitators were embedding themselves into peaceful protests then committing many of the acts of looting, vandalism, and arson. Loud fireworks and incendiary devices launched into crowds and at police appeared designed to scare and agitate the situation.
Comments on social media platforms of Atlanta INtown suggested that many of the agitators were white people dressed in black and wearing face coverings.
Around 150 to 200 vehicles — many with obscured or out-of-state license plates — were peacefully “escorted” by police away from Perimeter Mall area early on May 30 as rioters looted malls and shopping centers in Buckhead.