The College Football Hall of Fame was damaged and looted during protests in Atlanta following the murder of African-American man George Floyd. The police confirmed the news in a statement on Saturday morning. Reporters also tweeted videos showing broken out windows and a now-looted gift shop.
The monument toward college football's biggest stars is located near the CNN Center and Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. This spot is close to the epicenter of the protests over Floyd's death while in police custody. The College Football Hall of Fame was working on a reopening plan after weeks of being closed. The damage to the facilities could now potentially delay those plans.
"Protesters continue damaging businesses, looting and setting fire to buildings," Atlanta Police Department Sgt. John Chafee said in a statement, per ESPN. "There has been looting at the College Football Hall of Fame ... and many other businesses. We are grateful for the assistance being provided by multiple local and state law enforcement partners as we work to minimize the damage being caused by these individuals and to restore order in our city."
The College Football Hall of Fame moved from South Bend, Indiana, in 2014. The museum, which has been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is housed in a $68.5 million facility in Atlanta. According to College Football Hall of Fame CEO Kimberly Beaudin, the protesters did not access the museum. The damage was instead limited to the retail gift shop.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms held a press conference on Friday to condemn the violence in the city. She said that the "chaos" in the streets is not "Atlanta" and that protests have a purpose. She called for those wanting change to register to vote and bring about the change in the country.
"What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos," Bottoms said. "A protest has purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn't do this to our city. If you want change in America, go and register to vote. ... That is the change we need in this country."
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has declared a state of emergency due to the protests. He has deployed the National Guard to the city in pursuit of preventing unlawful activity and restoring peace. As many as 500 soldiers will partner with local law enforcement in the city.