Protesters surrounded CNN Center in Atlanta during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd turned violent Friday night. Photos showed the CNN logo covered in graffiti, and windows at the front entrance were broken. There were at least three arrests and one police officer was pushed to the ground, police told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The protest started out peacefully, but there was a scuffle between a protester and a police officer outside the CNN Center just before 5:30 p.m. ET, reports WSB-TV. CNN Center was closed just after 6 p.m. ET, and police held a barricade just outside the building. Police tried to push the protesters out into the street, telling them they could be arrested. At 8 p.m. ET though, protesters set a police cruiser on fire.
APD SWAT has walked in front of the building. pic.twitter.com/G7rS5usEcc— Raisa Habersham (@newsworthy17) May 29, 2020
"I understand the frustration. This is a very scary and frustrating time in America," Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told WSB-TV. "This is a very uncertain time for all of us. We started a movement here that changed the globe, and it was a nonviolent movement." Bottoms said the "vast majority" of protesters were demonstrating for the "right reasons." She asked people "to respect the legacy of who we are, and the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr."
Bottoms said the violent protests do not reflect the city's values. "We know how to effectuate change," she explained. "We know what a successful protest looks like. We don't want this death or any other death to get lost in violence and mayhem. What we want is a lasting change. We don't want a sensational moment on television."
Atlanta police also issued a lengthy statement, confirming officers were monitoring the protests on Centennial Olympic Park Drive near Marietta Street. Police said the protests started as a peaceful march before the event turned tense when they arrived back at Centennial Olympic Park Drive. Protesters surrounded a police vehicle which "led to a number of scuffles between police and protesters and at least three arrests." One officer suffered minor injuries after being pushed to the ground. Pepper spray was used "several times" during the incident, police said. "Officers have been subjected to water bottles, eggs and other items being thrown at them," police said. "However we remain hopeful this activity will cease and there will be no need for further arrests or clashes with protesters."
Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody on Monday. Police officer Derek Chauvin was shown putting his knee on Floyd's neck until he was unconscious, as seen in video from bystanders. Chauvin and three other officers were fired, and Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Protests have broken out in Minneapolis and St. Paul, with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz calling on the National Guard to assist local law enforcement.