As protesters hit the streets across the United States, several cities quickly became flashpoints for clashes between police and those marching. The unrest was sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday, growing in severity until Friday when the former police officer charged with the murder was taken into custody.
Atlanta quickly became one of the many tinderboxes to go off, with protesters starting peacefully until police forced them to stop near the CNN Center. This led to what some would describe as "bedlam" with protesters spray painting windows of the building, burning police vehicles, and more. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms lashed out at these protesters, referencing Dr. Martin Luther KIng in a passionate plea to those on the streets.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says the violent demonstrations in Atlanta are “disgracing the life of George Floyd”: “When you burn down this city, you’re burning down our community. If you want change in America, go and register to vote.” https://t.co/N5oZfxvFs3 pic.twitter.com/us3whIQnqu— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 30, 2020
"This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos. A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn't do this to our city," Bottoms said. "So if you love this city, this city that has had a legacy of black mayors and black police chiefs and people who care about this city, where more than 50 percent of the business owners in metro Atlanta are minority business owners. If you care about this city then go home."
Rappers Killer Mike and T.I. were also in attendance, with the former passionately speaking after Bottoms laid out her words. The Run the Jewels rapper spoke from the heart and didn't hesitate to be honest about what is needed from people in the coming days. That said, he made it clear that he didn't have the answers.
Killer Mike called Trump a dumb ass with his whole chest! Nothing but respect for Mr Killer Mike pic.twitter.com/Wk8ysNBNjt— 💫✨ (@TheJessieWoo) May 30, 2020
"If we lose Atlanta, what we else we got? We lose an ability to plot, to plan, to strategize, to organize and to properly mobilize. I want you to go home. I want you to talk to ten of your friends. I want you guys to come up with real solutions."
As Bottoms said, the actions of protesters in Atlanta wasn't addressing the "murder of an innocent man" anymore. It had turned into a discussion on "how you burning police cars" in the streets.