A viral video from the protests in Atlanta, Georgia last week showed protesters asking looters to leave a Waffle House restaurant alone, and prospective looters apparently deciding they were right. The angry crowd was out in full force, yet they showed the presence of mind to leave their favorite breakfast spot alone, to the delight of viewers online. The video has millions of views across social media.
The Waffle House in downtown Atlanta was spared in the first wave of escalating protests to pass by it on Friday, May 29. The 30-second clip showed a crowd milling around in front of the restaurant, with some preemptively begging others to leave the restaurant alone. It was not clear if this crowd had participated in other lootings or if they intended to here, but either way, everyone laughed along with the defenders as they decided collectively that the Waffle House was too precious to destroy. Many commenters laughed as well, saying that this is the united spirit of Atlanta that they know.
Atlanta said fuck everything up but Waffle House pic.twitter.com/mzheK8UbUh— Otto Dinero (@4500dinero) May 30, 2020
"Protesters decide to leave Waffle House alone. Atlanta is amazing," said the cameraman in the video. Other voices mingled in the clip, with at least one man shouting "Not the Waffle House!" and others waving their hands while saying "no, no, no."
To some, the video was inspirational, showing the real spirit of the demonstrations and hinting at more thoughtfulness to come in the direct action of the people. Sadly, that very same Waffle House did fall prey to looters later in the night. Local reporters later shared pictures of broken windows and people inside, helping themselves to food.
Despite the damage, the Waffle House re-opened on Sunday morning, with the debris cleaned up but no glass in the window panes. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp joked on Twitter that it "may be the first open-air [Waffle House]" ever.
Atlanta's demonstrations seemed to peak in property destruction and violence last week, with the defacing of the CNN headquarters building and clashes with police officers. On Saturday night, the National Guard arrived to take part in the response and crowd control. About 1,500 troops in total were brought in. Kemp has now authorized another 1,500 to respond in other parts of Georgia.
According to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta's curfew expired as of Wednesday morning. There is no word yet on whether city officials intend to extend it further, but demonstrations have continued to grow in size in recent nights.